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Complexity theory and evaluation

Often, evaluation follows linear theories of change and predictive models of outcomes. However, one assumption that we make in our evaluation of our community partnerships is that organizations and communities are complex adaptive systems (CAS). A CAS is defined in terms of its parts, the behavior of those parts, and the emergent behavior of the whole. The characteristics of a complex adaptive system are that it is dynamic, massively entangled, scale independent, transformative, and emergent (Eoyang & Berkas, p.4, 1998). Dynamic: “An evaluator may be able to frame expectations, but the self-organizing nature of the system may result in completely different outcomes than those expected” (Eoya

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Living on the contemporary and ancestral lands of the Potawatomi (SE Michigan) and Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation (Durham, North Carolina).
Working with partners across the country.

©2020 by Emergence Collective. Home page photo by JFL on Unsplash.