What is systemic change, how can we achieve it and how can it be measured? These questions are often asked by our clients, which is why we have set up a research theme on systemic change – or what is sometimes also called transformative systems change. The research is both self-funded and conducted through research assignments funded by partners and clients.
Economic development interventions often aim to achieve systemic change, which is generally associated with reaching scale and sustainability. However, the economic development community has struggled to define what constitutes systemic change, the pathways to achieving it as well as how to measure it.
Our aim is to broaden the definition of systemic change. Solely defined through a quantitative assessment of scale is not sufficient, e.g. the number of times a successful innovation has been replicated and used by other actors. In order to call it systemic and transformative, we need to understand change on all levels and at all scales of the socio-economic-ecological system, including formal institutions like rules, laws and regulations; informal institutions like social norms and habits; on the level of basic beliefs and values in a society as well on the level of ecological changes that are inherently intertwined with our social-economic world – now more than ever.
The basis for our research is the aim to better understand how socio-economic systems work, change and evolve. We take into consideration insights from the fields that are often taken together under the umbrella of New Economic Thinking. Furthermore, we also include insights from the studies of socio-technical transformations, innovation and innovation systems, complex systems sciences in general, as well as the study of resilience in socio-ecological systems – in particular the aspect of transformation of these systems.
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