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

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It is widely recognised that the foreign aid system - of which every country in the world is a part - is in need of drastic overhaul. There are conflicting opinions as to what should be done. Some call for dramatic increases to achieve longstanding promises. Others bang the drum for cutting it altogether, and suggest putting the fate of poor and vulnerable people in the hands of markets or business. A few argue that what is needed is creative, innovative transformation. The arguments in Aid on the Edge of Chaos are firmly in the third of these categories.

In this ground-breaking book, Ben Ramalingam shows that the linear, mechanistic models and assumptions that foreign aid is built on are more at home in early twentieth century industry than in the dynamic, complex world we face today.

The reality is that economies and societies are less like machines and more like ecosystems. Aid on the Edge of Chaos explores how thinkers and practitioners in economics, business, and public policy have started to embrace new, ecologically literate approaches to thinking and acting, informed by the ideas of complex adaptive systems research. It showcases insights, experiences, and dramatic results of a growing network of practitioners, researchers, and policy makers who are applying a complexity-informed approach to aid challenges.

From transforming approaches to child malnutrition, to rethinking process of macroeconomic growth, from rural Vietnam to urban Columbia, Aid on the Edge of Chaos shows how embracing the ideas of complex systems thinking can help make foreign aid more relevant, more appropriate, more innovative, and more catalytic. It argues that taking on these ideas will be a vital part of the transformation of aid, from a post-WW2 mechanism of resource transfer, to a truly innovative and dynamic form of global cooperation fit for the twenty-first century.

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About the Author:


Ben Ramalingam, Independent consultant and writer

Ben Ramalingam is an independent consultant and writer specialising on international development and humanitarian issues. He has worked with and advised dozens of development and humanitarian organisations including UN agencies, NGOs, Red Cross, and government agencies. He holds honorary positions the London School of Economics, the Overseas Development Institute, and the Institute of Development Studies at Sussex University.

Review:


"Sets a new milestone... Required reading for those interested in development." --The Guardian


"Exhaustive... This book explains an important global activity few outsiders understand, and important scientific ideas that might yet turn it around."--New Scientist


"Aid on the Edge of Chaos offers 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." --Financial Times


"Masterful...an important step towards changing our institutions and organizations...Ramalingam skillfully 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


"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


"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


"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


"This is a work of immense value and importance for the development sector. The crucial question is whether international agencies are ready to hear the message and willing to act on the lessons." --Elinor Ostrom, Nobel Laureate, Economics


"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


"[A] timely critique of aid... The examples presented in this work should prompt a reconsideration of how one thinks of foreign aid." --CHOICE


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Book Description Oxford University Press, United Kingdom, 2014. Hardback. Condition: New. Language: English. Brand new Book. It is widely recognised that the foreign aid system - which today involves every country in the world - is in need of drastic change. But there are conflicting opinions as to what is needed. Some call for dramatic increases in resources, to meet long-overdue commitments, and to scale up what is already being done around the world. Others point to the flaws in aid, and bang the drum for cutting it altogether - and argue that the fate of poor and vulnerable people be best placed in the hands of markets and the private sector. Meanwhile, growing numbers are suggesting that what is most needed is the creative, innovative transformation of how aid works. Aid on the Edge of Chaos is firmly in the third of these camps. In this ground-breaking book, Ben Ramalingam shows that the linear, mechanistic models and assumptions on which foreign aid is built would be more at home in early twentieth century factory floors than in the dynamic, complex world we face today. All around us, we can see the costs and limitations of dealing economies and societies as if they are analogous to machines.The reality is that such social systems have far more in common with ecosystems: they are complex, dynamic, diverse and unpredictable. Many thinkers and practitioners in science, economics, business, and public policy have started to embrace more 'ecologically literate' approaches to guide both thinking and action, informed by ideas from the 'new science' of complex adaptive systems. Inspired by these efforts, there is an emerging network of aid practitioners, researchers, and policy makers who are experimenting with complexity-informed responses to development and humanitarian challenges. This book showcases the insights, experiences, and often remarkable results from these efforts. From transforming approaches to child malnutrition, to rethinking processes of economic growth, from building peace to combating desertification, from rural Vietnam to urban Kenya, Aid on the Edge of Chaos shows how embracing the ideas of complex systems thinking can help make foreign aid more relevant, more appropriate, more innovative, and more catalytic.Ramalingam argues that taking on these ideas will be a vital part of the transformation of aid, from a post-WW2 mechanism of resource transfer, to a truly innovative and dynamic form of global cooperation fit for the twenty-first century. Seller Inventory # AOP9780199578023

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Book Description Oxford University Press, United Kingdom, 2014. Hardback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. It is widely recognised that the foreign aid system - which today involves every country in the world - is in need of drastic change. But there are conflicting opinions as to what is needed. Some call for dramatic increases in resources, to meet long-overdue commitments, and to scale up what is already being done around the world. Others point to the flaws in aid, and bang the drum for cutting it altogether - and argue that the fate of poor and vulnerable people be best placed in the hands of markets and the private sector. Meanwhile, growing numbers are suggesting that what is most needed is the creative, innovative transformation of how aid works. Aid on the Edge of Chaos is firmly in the third of these camps. In this ground-breaking book, Ben Ramalingam shows that the linear, mechanistic models and assumptions on which foreign aid is built would be more at home in early twentieth century factory floors than in the dynamic, complex world we face today. All around us, we can see the costs and limitations of dealing economies and societies as if they are analogous to machines. The reality is that such social systems have far more in common with ecosystems: they are complex, dynamic, diverse and unpredictable. Many thinkers and practitioners in science, economics, business, and public policy have started to embrace more ecologically literate approaches to guide both thinking and action, informed by ideas from the new science of complex adaptive systems. Inspired by these efforts, there is an emerging network of aid practitioners, researchers, and policy makers who are experimenting with complexity-informed responses to development and humanitarian challenges. This book showcases the insights, experiences, and often remarkable results from these efforts. From transforming approaches to child malnutrition, to rethinking processes of economic growth, from building peace to combating desertification, from rural Vietnam to urban Kenya, Aid on the Edge of Chaos shows how embracing the ideas of complex systems thinking can help make foreign aid more relevant, more appropriate, more innovative, and more catalytic. Ramalingam argues that taking on these ideas will be a vital part of the transformation of aid, from a post-WW2 mechanism of resource transfer, to a truly innovative and dynamic form of global cooperation fit for the twenty-first century. Seller Inventory # AOP9780199578023

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