The UK Treasury adopted new central government guidance on evaluation in 2020, so-called The Magenta Book. The new guidance emphasises particular concerns for evaluation in complex conditions highlighting complex systems thinking implications for policymaking that cuts across many areas of governance. CECAN (The Centre for the Evaluation of Complexity Across the Nexus, 2020) welcomes the adoption of a new guide as evidence of a major shift in an approach to policy challenges, analysis, design, and evaluation.
The Magenta Book is accompanied by a special Annex comprising a supplementary guide on handling complexity in policy evaluation, prepared by CECAN. The guide’s goal is the adoption of a more integrated approach to evaluation. It explains what complexity thinking is, what the features of complex systems are, and how new methodologies and tools can equip policymakers to work with unavoidable complexity. In particular, the guide identifies which complexity-appropriate evaluation strategies can be used in various complex conditions.
Recognition of the fundamental challenges of complexity by a central government is an important milestone in policy impact evaluation. Evaluators in other countries must acknowledge this achievement. As practitioners but also as learners or critical observers.
In short review, I focus on what I perceive as the main problem of the guide — its highly problematic theory of change. The authors understand complexity in a reductionist way, even though complexity is an integrative concept, com-plexus originally means braiding together. Two illustrative examples are addressed. First, they decompose the leading features of complexity, and identify partial solutions for each of them. Second, the authors apply either complicated or chaotic explanations of complexity, as if complexity were not an independent concept, containing part of both but also sublating them.
Magenta Complexity Bojan Radej 1 day ago·4 min readMagenta Complexity. The UK Treasury adopted new central… | by Bojan Radej | Nov, 2021 | Medium