Learning and Non-Linear Impact Assessment


Learning and non-linear impact assessment is a fundamental issue to be addressed in the implementation of innovation that employs dynamical systems theory (DST). Complex social and social-ecological systems change in non-linear and unpredictable ways, and the knowledge about their dynamics and how to best affect outcomes emerges over time. All too often, monitoring and evaluation is based on pre-determined indicators (typically output metrics) that serve only to measure attainment of and/or compliance with project goals but provide little value for learning about the workings of the system in a way that can facilitate understanding of the effects of the work on the system and inform adaptive management to improve outcomes.