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A guide for managing projects and programmes in the face of complexity

Research report

Written by Harry Jones

Research report

​Complexity heightens the importance of effective management, but poses challenges for the tools and approaches used most widely to manage international development projects.

This guide, which follows 'A guide to planning and strategy development in the face of complexity', addresses the challenges managers face steering development interventions towards their intended goals in the face of three types of challenges:

  • The level of uncertainty on how to achieve the desire outcomes
  • The extent to which there is agreement about the problem and about what to do
  • The extent to which knowledge or capacities needed to tackle an issue are distributed across a range of players.

The authors address the limitations of particular management approaches such as Results-Based Management and suggest some broad principles to guide approaches to managing complex situations. They also describe eight individual approaches which may be suitable for managing an intervention facing complex problems. The paper provides a list of additional reading and useful websites for further reference.


Richard Hummelbrunner and Harry Jones