Additional Resources


Critical Success Factors for Development Initiatives: Which Local System Attributes Help Shape Development Outcomes? (LSP / ANSER, 2017)

  • Research and report examining the attributes and foundations for LSP's Learning Statement 2. Reviewing sixty sources, this research paper assesses the extent to which there are qualities or attributes of local (country) systems that development researchers and practitioners have found to be critical in informing and shaping development outcomes.

2018 Multi-paper Presentation at the Conference of the American Evaluation Association (AEA): "Breaking News: We Can't Control Everything! Using Systems Thinking to Understand Context in Development Projects. (LINC / ANSER, 2018)

  • Multi-paper presentation at the annual conference of the American Evaluation Association (AEA), delivered November 1, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio. Patrick Sommerville (LINC), Sibel McGee (ANSER) and Frances Veasey (ANSER) presented on their LSP research into attributes of a health systems, systems thinking tools and resources for practitioners, and two cases of applying systems thinking in Afghanistan and Bangladesh.


Thinking in Systems: A Primer (Donella Meadows, 2008)

  • A key resource by Donella Meadows (2008) that introduces many conceptual tools of systems thinking, including causal loop diagrams, and discusses their application to real world problems.

Systems Concepts in Action: A Practitioner's Toolkit (Williams, B. and R. Hummelbrunner, 2010)

  • This book presents a wide range of methods from the systems field.

The 5Rs Framework in the Program Cycle (USAID, 2016)

  • An excellent resource for a practitioners in the early stages of crafting a systems framework for practical project / activity design purposes.


Strengthening Local Systems through Network Analysis LINC

    • Learn more about how our company, LINC, applies Network Analysis to understand and map complex systems and strengthen local systems and actors.

PACT Organizational Network Analysis (ONA) Handbook (2011)

    • A practical guide to the ONA tool created for practitioners and development professionals. While it assumes the reader's general familiarity with networks, the handbook provides practitioners and managers with the information they need to understand how ONA works, and how best to incorporate it in their country strategy or program.

University of Michigan School of Information Social Network Analysis online course

    • Professor Lada Adamic of the University of Michigan teaches an online course that introduces basic concepts in network theory, discusses metrics and models, and ways to use software analysis tools to experiment with a wide variety of real-world network data. The online class utilizes Gephi, NetLogo and R tools to cover network theory, analysis and application to help learners observe and understand different networks as well as their structures.

Video on Network Theory

    • Created by Complexity Labs, this video provides a simple and tangible explanation of Network Theory and discusses the most common terms.

NGO Network Analysis Handbook: how to measure and map linkages between NGOs Save the Children (2011)

    • This handbook is designed to aid practitioners to understand what network analysis is; how network data is collected; how to create visual maps of the network, and how to analyze the network data for program/project development or evaluation.

Not everything that connects is a network Overseas Development Institute (2011)

    • This paper seeks to address the following questions: Are networks always the most appropriate vehicle? Where they are appropriate? How can we make the best use of them? The paper argues for a more rigorous understanding of networks' nature, particularly their value (and costs), and presents a revised Network Functions Approach as a model for rationalized investment in networks.

Learning about Analysing Networks to Support Development Work (2011)

    • This paper presents four cases where social network analysis was used in a development program. It focuses on the analysis of connectivity in real world networks, particularly in cases that were unintentional networks.

Catalyzing Networks for Social Change Monitor Institute and Grantmakers for Effective Organizations (2011)

    • This guide is for grant makers who are just beginning to explore and experiment with networks and for those who are further along and want to reflect on their practice.

A Bird's Eye View: Using social network analysis to improve knowledge creation and sharing IBM Institute for Knowledge (2002)

    • This guide provides four different network relationship dimensions which are important for effective learning. The research discusses and analyzes how applying these dimensions to important groups of people within an organization can facilitate and improve knowledge creation and sharing.

Social Network Analysis Handbook International Rescue Committee (2016)

    • This handbook provides a step by step guide to the application of SNA. The approach draws on Social Network theory, discussion-based tools, and graphical software applications.

Social network analysis of multi-stakeholder platforms in agricultural research for development: Opportunities and constraints for innovation and scaling PLOS One (2017)

    • This paper explores three multi-stakeholder platforms (MSPs) in Burundi, Rwanda and the eastern part of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The researchers apply SNA and Exponential Random Graph Modelling (ERGM) to investigate the structural properties of the collaborative, knowledge exchange and influence networks of these MSPs, and compare them against value propositions derived from the innovation network literature. Results demonstrate a number of mismatches between collaboration, knowledge exchange and influence networks for effective innovation and scaling processes in all three countries. The results illustrate the potential of Social Network Analysis and ERGMs to identify the strengths and limitations of MSPs in terms of achieving development impacts.


Systems Thinking Applied: A Primer (ANSER, one of the LSP Consortium Partners).

  • Reference source on systems thinking for beginners that explains key methods of systems analysis, including causal loop diagrams.

Leverage Points: Places to Intervene in a System (Donella Meadows, 1999)

  • Seminal work by Meadows that identifies 12 types of levers within a system and discusses their effectiveness in bringing about change.

Business Dynamics: Systems Thinking and Modeling for a Complex World (John Sterman, 2000)

  • Key textbook in which MIT professor discussed system dynamics approach and its application to problem solving efforts in business, organizational, social and physical science domains.

Guidelines for Casual Loop Diagrams (Daniel Kim, 1992)

  • Offers some suggestions on the mechanics of creating causal loop diagrams, and general guidelines that should help lead you through the process.

Systems Grantmaking Resource Guide: Casual Loop Diagramming

  • Brief profile on Casual Loop Diagramming, and how it relates to systems grantmaking


Cynefin Framework (Snowden & Boone, 2007)

  • The framework is currently undergoing improvements but this article provides the basics

The Operational Guide For The Making Markets Work For The Poor (M4P) Approach

  • A guide to thinking about who benefits, and who likely to lose out.

The Systems Practice Workbook (Acumen+/Omidyar)