Andrews, Pritchet and Woolcock, (2012) Escaping Capability Traps through Problem-Driven Iterative Adaptation

(Writing of the developing world, but obviously applicable to schools…) Organisations get stuck in capability traps: they don’t improve, but get forced to apply (measurable) best practices, which don’t solve the underlying problems or engender improvement.Pritchett a 1.png

This approach means we’re pretty good at physical things (building bridges, for example). It doesn’t really work to change education… (Echoes of Street-Level Bureaucracy here).Pritchett a 7.png

Reforms become simply signals, so local agents, don’t bother trying to follow them, because they know it won’t make any difference (sound familiar?)Pritchet a 2.png

The authors advocate Problem-Driven Iterative Adaptation (as below)Pritchett a 4.png

First, identify a problem, (not a solution).

 Pritchett a 5.png

This allows local agents to take small steps beginning to address the problem.Pritchett a 6.png

How does this approach differ from normal development policy?Pritchett a 8.png

In short, this approach, ‘Problem-Driven Iterative Adaptation’, is a slower way to evolve towards a more perfect solution… (shades of Hayek, Drucker, Taleb)Pritchett a 3.png

Andrews, M., Pritchet, L., and Woolcock, M. (2012). Escaping Capability Traps through Problem-Driven Iterative Adaptation (PDIA). Center for Global Development, Working Paper 299. Washington, DC

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