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Aid on the Edge of Chaos

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Aid on the Edge of Chaos
AuthorBen Ramalingam
SubjectHumanitarian Aid
PublisherOxford University Press
Publication placeUK

Aid on the Edge of Chaos is a 2013 book on applying cutting-edge science and innovation to international development, published by Oxford University Press[1] and written by global development and humanitarian expert Ben Ramalingam.[2]


The book focuses on the need to improve foreign aid[3] and the value of complex systems science and research for how global international aid efforts should be designed, implemented and evaluated.[4]

Critical reception and influence[edit]

Described in a leading development journal as 'one of the most lauded contributions to recent mainstream development thinking', Aid on the Edge of Chaos has been endorsed by many top scientists and international leaders, including four Nobel Laureates in Medicine, Economics and Chemistry and the heads of Red Cross and United Nations as well as many NGO leaders.[5] It has been positively reviewed by various press outlets, including The Economist,[6] the Financial Times,[7] The Guardian,[8] New Scientist,[9] Nature,[10] Lancet, Harvard Business Review and the British Medical Journal.

It was also the focus of an interview feature with the author in Huffington Post.[11] Aid on the Edge of Chaos was the subject of a public lecture by Ben Ramalingam at the Royal Society of Arts, London, in December 2013,[12] an event chaired by Geoff Mulgan, CEO of NESTA. The book was discussed by Ramalingam and Sir John Holmes at the Oxford Literary Festival in March 2014,[13] an event chaired by leading British filmmaker and author Bidisha.

Many international aid agencies are applying ideas from the book in their work, including the UK Department for International Development,[14] USAID, the International Rescue Committee, Mercy Corps, UNICEF, World Food Programme, World Vision, the World Bank,[15] the United Nations,[16] and Oxfam.[17]


  1. ^ Aid on the Edge of Chaos: Hardback: Ben Ramalingam - Oxford University Press. Ukcatalogue.oup.com. 2013-10-24. ISBN 9780199578023. Retrieved 2014-05-10.
  2. ^ "Ben Ramalingam | Global development". The Guardian. 2011-02-22. Retrieved 2014-05-10.
  3. ^ "International aid and development - Topics". GOV.UK. Retrieved 2014-05-10.
  4. ^ "Complexity and social systems". Archived from the original on 2012-11-06. Retrieved 2014-05-14.
  5. ^ "Reviews | Aid on the Edge of Chaos". Aidontheedge.info. 13 November 2009. Retrieved 2014-05-10.
  6. ^ Economist (2014-04-26). "The politics of foreign aid: Poor and benighted". The Economist. Retrieved 2014-05-10.
  7. ^ Amy Kazmin (2014-01-05). "Aid on the Edge of Chaos, by Ben Ramalingam". FT.com. Retrieved 2014-05-10.
  8. ^ Heiner Janus; Sebastian Paulo (2013-12-24). "Aid on the edge of chaos - review | Global Development Professionals Network | Guardian Professional". The Guardian. Theguardian.com. Retrieved 2014-05-10.
  9. ^ "Look to complexity theory to solve the aid problem - health - 16 December 2013". New Scientist. 2013-12-16. Retrieved 2014-05-10.
  10. ^ Kiser, Barbara (2013-11-13). "Books in brief". Nature. 503 (7475): 195. Bibcode:2013Natur.503..195K. doi:10.1038/503195a.
  11. ^ "Dennis Whittle: Ben Ramalingam on Aid and Complexity". Huffingtonpost.com. 2011-01-07. Retrieved 2014-05-10.
  12. ^ "What's Next For Foreign Aid?". RSA. 2013-12-05. Archived from the original on 2013-12-03. Retrieved 2014-05-10.
  13. ^ "Ben Ramalingam and John Holmes Interviewed by Bidisha - Aid on the Edge of Chaos: How Do We Make it Count - 27 Mar 2014". Oxford Literary Festival. 2014-03-27. Retrieved 2014-05-10.
  14. ^ Pete Vowles (2014-05-02). "Adaptive programming | Department for International Development". Dfid.blog.gov.uk. Retrieved 2014-05-10.
  15. ^ "Wanted: A Simple Measure of Success in a Complex World | Independent Evaluation Group". Ieg.worldbankgroup.org. Archived from the original on 2014-05-14. Retrieved 2014-05-10.
  16. ^ "Innovation for development: Scaling up or evolving? | Voices from Eurasia - We help build better lives". Europeandcis.undp.org. 2014-02-06. Archived from the original on 2014-03-13. Retrieved 2014-05-10.
  17. ^ "From Poverty to Power " The Aid trilemma: are complexity, scale and measurability mutually incompatible?". Oxfamblogs.org. 2014-02-18. Retrieved 2014-05-10.