Past Event

Complexity and Development Seminar Series

A Complexity Based Approach to Scaling Development Impact

12 December 2017 13:00–14:03

Institute of Development Studies, Library Road, Falmer, Brighton, BN1 9RE

This seminar was the second in a series aiming to share cutting edge thinking and research at IDS and the University of Sussex around practically how we capture and account for complexity across a variety of sustainable development contexts.

 The dominant model of scaling in international development is based on the idea of piloting successful innovation and then ‘rolling it out”. This approach scales activity rather than impact. It is projectised and often unsustainable. It often fails to recognise the complexities of local dynamics leading to failures of implementation. Drawing on thinking in his book Navigating Complexity in International Development (Burns and Worsley, 2015) and a case study in Myanmar, Danny argues for a ‘movement based approach’ to creating sustainable change at scale.


Danny Burns is an IDS Research Cluster Leader and professorial Research Fellow. His work focuses on participatory learning for social change with a strong emphasis on systems thinking and complexity.

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