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Building bureaucracies that adapt to complexity

Time (GMT +00) 12:30 13:45


Emma Proud @emmaproud – Head of Learning and Adapting, Brink


Ena Fernandez – OIC Director, Philippines House of Representatives

Sam Sharp @samtsharp – Research Officer, ODI

Stacey Young – Agency Knowledge Management and Organizational Learning Officer, USAID

Toby Lowe @tobyjlowe – Visiting Professor, Centre for Public Impact

Yuen Yuen Ang @yuenyuenang –  Professor, University of Michigan 


Are bureaucracies today fit for purpose to address what are often complex and multidimensional challenges on housing, education, pandemics, international development and beyond?

Public servants and experts alike are increasingly questioning the wisdom of mainstream approaches embodied in new public management, arguing that tackling complex challenges calls for different ways of working. Public organisations need to be able to learn from and adapt to rapidly shifting and uncertain environments, and work iteratively to refine policies. Covid-19 is a prime example: governments have had to rapidly adapt to keep pace with the unpredictable and emergent nature of the pandemic. But can bureaucracies become less bureaucratic and more adaptive?

Building on emerging evidence from the FCDO-funded LearnAdapt programme, this event explores different efforts to incorporate adaptive approaches within public management. The discussion draws from different experiences across a range of sectors and countries to tease out key insights and lessons that are relevant to those aiming to build more adaptive organisations, in international development or beyond.

203 Blackfriars Road London