International Development Aid: A Complex System

Wu, Belinda (2016). International Development Aid: A Complex System. In: Wilson, Alan ed. Global Dynamics: Approaches from Complexity Science. John Wiley and Sons Ltd, pp. 231–256.



International development aid is part of a complex system where multiple organisations are providing aid over multiple issues through multiple relationships, driven by multiple motivations. There are so many intertwined factors playing important roles in this system that it makes the study of it very difficult, as it will be impossible to capture all the factors or describe them accurately in any model. Due to its importance in international development aid and data availability, this chapter focuses on Official Development Assistance (ODA) for the first instance and here the author explores further the definition of ODA. The chapter discusses four features of the complex system of international development aid that demonstrates the characteristics of a complex system. There are many sources of the complexity in the international development aid system. The chapter examines four such sources: organizations, topics/issues, data and research methods.

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