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International Development in a Complex Adaptive System

Author: RONALD J. SCOTT, JR.
Published in PAQ, Vol. 32 No. 3

Understanding the international system as an emergent complex adaptive system (cas) and then pursuing an approach based on cooperation theory and a meliorist-centric orientation will improve, perhaps even accelerate, international development (ID). Cooperation theory, properly defined and fully developed, could play a more constructive role in foreign policy, especially as it relates to ID. To justify this argument, the article: 1) describes current international relations theories that guide current ID approaches; 2) frames the ID context; 3) describes cas attributes and how they provide a useful platform for understanding the role of ID in an international system; 4) discusses implications of modeling and simulation for identifying tipping points and levers for ID investment; and 5) closes with conclusions and recommendations for future research.

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