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Aid on the Edge of Chaos: Rethinking International Cooperation in a Complex World (Paperback)
  • Aid on the Edge of Chaos: Rethinking International Cooperation in a Complex World (Paperback)

Aid on the Edge of Chaos: Rethinking International Cooperation in a Complex World (Paperback)

Paperback 472 Pages / Published: 16/04/2015
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Many agree that the foreign aid system - which today involves virtually every nation on earth - needs drastic change. But there is much conflict as to what should be done. In Aid on the Edge of Chaos, Ben Ramalingam argues that what is most needed is the creative and innovative transformation of how aid works. Foreign aid today is dominated by linear, mechanistic ideas that emerged from early twentieth century industry, and are ill-suited to the world we face today. The problems and systems aid agencies deal with on a daily basis have more in common with ecosystems than machines: they are interconnected, diverse, and dynamic; they cannot be just simply re-engineered or fixed. Outside of aid, social scientists, economists, business leaders, and policy makers have started applying innovative and scientific approaches to such problems, informed by ideas from the 'new science' of complex adaptive systems. Inspired by these efforts, aid practitioners and researchers have started experimenting with such approaches in their own work. This book showcases the experiences, insights, and often remarkable results of innovative thinkers and practitioners who are working to bring these approaches into the mainstream of aid. From transforming child malnutrition to rethinking economic growth, from building peace to reversing desertification, from rural Vietnam to urban Kenya, the ideas of complex systems thinking are starting to be used to make foreign aid more relevant, more appropriate, and more catalytic. Aid on the Edge of Chaos argues that such ideas and approaches should play a vital part of the transformation of aid. Aid should move from being an imperfect post-World War II global resource transfer system, to a new form of global cooperation that is truly fit for the twenty-first century.

Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 9780198728245
Number of pages: 472
Weight: 698 g
Dimensions: 233 x 155 x 26 mm

The examples presented in this work should prompt a reconsideration of how one thinks of foreign aid. * S. Paul, Choice *
An exhaustive tour of the complex systems research landscape, including how it is used to understand phenomena as diverse as climate change, food price rises, ethnic segregation and the Arab spring ... Important and relevant for the aid world. * Amy Kazmin, Financial Times *
The most interesting part of Mr Ramalingam's book is his discussion of how some agencies are beginning to learn from the way poor people can successfully do difficult things... [and that] experimenting repeatedly and quickly has much to offer the world of aid. * The Economist *
Sets a new milestone in the aid debate... an impressive interdisciplinary tour * The Guardian Global Development Professionals Network *
This book explains an important global activity few outsiders understand, and important scientific ideas that might yet turn it around. * Debora MacKenzie, New Scientist *
Masterful. An important step towards changing our institutions and organizations Ramalingam skilfully draws upon a diverse body of ideas and research to deliver a vital message for aid and beyond. * Philip Ball, author of Critical Mass, Winner of the Aventis Royal Society Book of the Year *
Aid on the Edge of Chaos will change the way you think... One of the most important books you will read about development. * Owen Barder, Senior Fellow, Center for Global Development *
The accolades on the cover are well-founded; this is a great read, engagingly written, and full of vivid examples, poignantly-funny cartoons and a reflective humility that suits its subject matter. * Melissa Leach, Knowledge, Technology and Society *
Many see international development aid as in thrall to linear, mechanized thinking, and champion approaches in which local people solve their own challenges with intelligently tailored backing. Ben Ramalingam offers a scientific model for that path... and fosters a new aid paradigm: an open innovation network, catalysing and leveraging change in countries around the world. * Nature *
Breathtaking . . . catapults development thinking into the 21st century . . . read this book and be changed. * Andrew Zolli, Executive Director, Pop Tech and author of Resilience: Why Things Bounce Back *
Ben Ramalingam's thought provoking and highly readable book re-frames the debate on aid and development challenges the existing aid paradigm and points the way towards a genuinely new approach - a new approach that is urgently needed. * Eric Beinhocker, Executive Director, Institute for New Economic Thinking at the Oxford Martin School, University of Oxford and author of The Origin of Wealth *
Ben Ramalingam's tour de force of a book provides an unorthodox and fascinating insight into today's global aid sector: its current practices and sometimes faulty theories of action. This book is a vital source of inspiration. * Yves Daccord, Director General, ICRC *
Marrying science, policy and practice with a deep moral conscience, this important book points to a future that that we should all be working towards. * Peter Doherty, Nobel Laureate, Medicine *
Challenging... Much needed. Ramalingam pushes his reader to question traditional wisdoms, navigate different disciplines, and value the import of local experience. * Noreena Hertz, author of 'Eyes Wide Open: How to Make Smart Decisions in a Confusing World' *
Ramalingam sets out a challenge to everyone working in international cooperation, to rethink our basic assumptions and to think and act in ways that are more attuned to the real world in all its complexities. This is one to read and re-read. * Sir Richard Jolly, Assistant Secretary General, United Nations *
Ben Ramalingam convincingly shows why transformational change is so badly needed in foreign aid, and where it might come from. * Lynda Gratton, Professor of Management, London Business School, Author of Hot Spots *
This well-written and thought-provoking book is an important contribution to redesigning aid for a messy, complex world. * Duncan Green, Senior Strategic Advisor, Oxfam *
Ben Ramalingam is a leading champion of the adaptive, scientific, trial-and-error thinking that the aid industry badly needs. * Tim Harford, author of The Undercover Economist Strikes Back and Adapt *
This excellent book [is] a must-read for anyone interested in development, its current discontents, and its future potential. * Ricardo Haussmann, former Chief Economist, Inter-American Development Bank and Director of the Centre for International Development, Harvard University *
This is a superb book, boldly facing in this age of globalization the complexity of aid to developing countries. Impressive and inspiring, this work is destined to become a 21st century classic. * Dudley Herschbach, Nobel Laureate, Chemistry *
With beautifully clear writing and stories, Ben Ramalingam uses complexity concepts to reveal the deep reasons for why aid sometimes works and sometimes doesn't. * Thomas Homer-Dixon, Director, Waterloo Institute for Complexity and Innovation, Author of The Upside of Down *
Far from being a pessimistic funeral march, Ramalingam's wide-ranging discourse provides many inspiring examples of how complexity theory can be put to practical and meaningful use, and lays out a hopeful path forward. * Simon Levin, Moffat Professor of Ecology, Princeton University *
Well-intentioned aid agencies sometimes oversimplify the problems they need to solve. [this] book makes the good case that the growing field of complex adaptive systems can help prevent such errors from being repeated. * Eric Maskin, Nobel Laureate, Economics *
This brilliant book will energise the struggle to make big government, big money and big aid sensitive to contexts, humble about what they can achieve, and sophisticated about the connectedness of things. * Geoff Mulgan, Chief Executive, National Endowment for Science Technology and the Arts, and former Director of UK Prime Minister's Strategy Unit *
Ben Ramalingam seamlessly combines practical experience, policy relevance and scientific expertise. Aid on the Edge of Chaos deserves a very wide audience. * Paul Ormerod, author of Death of Economics and Positive Linking *
A terrific, stimulating book. Ramalingam clearly and engagingly shows how the use of complex adaptive systems thinking can significantly strengthen and enhance the impacts and effectiveness of global foreign aid. * Jerry Sabloff, President, Santa Fe Institute *
A magnificent piece of work a major contribution to the debate about how to rethink and improve the way we deliver aid worldwide. * Sir Nick Young, Chief Executive Officer, British Red Cross *

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