Chapter 14International Development Aid: A Complex System

Belinda Wu

14.1 Introduction: A Complex Systems' Perspective

International development aid plays an important role in human progress, as it is crucial to help developing nations grow out of poverty. As the gap between the developed and developing countries continues to grow, aid is provided in the belief that it will close such gaps and ultimately help improve the lives of those who really need it (Andrews, 2009; Radelet, 2008). To achieve this goal, it requires effective aid allocation. However, the aid system demonstrates a great degree of complexity that originates from various sources including the organisation of the aid system, the interwoven relationship of different actors and factors in the system, the data and the research method. Such complexity makes the goal of achieving aid effectiveness very difficult, and this has always fascinated researchers, government officials and practitioners in the field.

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. The system also demonstrates the characteristics of a complex system such as connectedness/network, self-adapt/self-organising ...

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