In recent years, the evaluation community has been looking to “complexity” as a source for addressing these difficulties.
I am involved in a project that involves helping people make a single choice among multiple technologies. They must commit to one, so there is no waffling. This is one more of many such exercises that I have been involved in over the course of my career, and I have never been fully satisfied with any of them. On an intuitive level, everyone knows they cannot make the best choice, but everyone thinks that they should be able to. I finally figured out why they cannot. I don’t mean that people are not smart enough. I mean that it is impossible. The behavior of complex systems makes it impossible.
This chapter draws from complexity science to present a metatheory of transformation that can be applied to discrete theories of change that are constructed to guide model building, methodology, and data interpretation for the evaluation of individual change efforts.