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Unpacking Power Dynamics in International Development: A Causal Layered Analysis

Cochrane, Michelle (2021) Unpacking Power Dynamics in International Development: A Causal Layered Analysis. [MRP]

Item Type: MRP
Creators: Cochrane, Michelle

Over the past decade, the international development sector has increasingly shifted toward locally-led models of development. Recognizing the need to include local populations in the design, implementation, and leadership of projects, practices such as localization, participatory development, and community-led development have become established in most international non-governmental organizations. However, despite extensive methodologies, institutional support, policy frameworks, and advocacy around shifting power from global to local actors, development relationships continue to be largely dominated by donor-led priorities.

Responding to these long-standing critiques on embedded inequality as well as more recent calls to dismantle systemic racism spurred by the Black Lives Matter movement, the sector has been embarking on a process to ‘decolonize development’. This involves acknowledging the sector’s colonial history and resulting Western-dominated, white-centered structures that perpetuate unequal power dynamics. Although these practices signal progress, there lacks a clearly defined framework for envisioning an alternative development paradigm.

Employing a futures research framework (Causal Layered Analysis), this paper unpacks the underlying systems, worldviews, and narratives that give rise to current unequal power dynamics in international development. The paper also articulates an alternative metaphor to create the conditions for a new paradigm to emerge. Through a comprehensive literature review and several interviews with senior leaders of international development organizations, the research revealed a machine metaphor as driving the beliefs, systems, and activities within the current development paradigm. By adopting instead an ecosystem metaphor, the paper outlines alternate ways of thinking, working and relating that support a regenerative development paradigm - one that allows for mutually beneficial relationships.

Date: 7 May 2021
Uncontrolled Keywords: International Development, Decolonization, Systems Thinking, Regenerative Development, Causal Layered Analysis, Design Thinking
Divisions: Graduate Studies
Graduate Studies > Strategic Foresight and Innovation
Date Deposited: 07 May 2021 21:05
Last Modified: 20 Dec 2021 20:45
URI: https://openresearch.ocadu.ca/id/eprint/3391

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