(Descriptive) theories of change

Van de Ven and Poole (1995) group the main theories of change to four groups:

  1. Life cycle
  2. Teleology
  3. Dialectics
  4. Evolution

The most interesting of these is #4, evolution. Viewed correctly, it actually encompasses all the others.

Other ways of describing how change unfolds:

  • punctuated equilibrium
  • crisis
  • viral
  • social movement
  • learning
  • serendipidity
  • probabilistic
  • revolution

However, change may be all of these things at the same time. It’s a fact that a dynamic system can produce both equilibrium and punctuations to the equilibrium; and we actually can’t know (in most cases) whether a system that’s outwardly stable will stay stable or wander off from the equilibrium point.

In other words: change, even radical change, may not require any changes in the system itself; only in its behavior. Complex systems are quite capable of producing complex behavior endogenously.

About J. M. Korhonen

as himself
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1 Response to (Descriptive) theories of change

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