## Key Terms

Systems Thinking Terms

• Boundary: An imaginary line that marks the edge or limit of a system. It is what defines what is inside and outside of the system. There are no right or wrong boundaries; only those that include the necessary of actors and factors required to start transforming the system. As we know more about the system, we should assess if the boundary must be changed by adding or excluding actors and factors.
• System: A group of interdependent/interacting parts that form a unified whole to pursue a common goal.
• Systems Analysis: Analysis of issues or problems as part of a broader structure or system.
• Soft Systems: Systems that have a strong human interaction, perception, and cultural component.

Social Network Analysis Terms

• Attribute – a characteristic or property of a person, group, organization, etc.
• Betweenness – the node(s) in a network in which the shortest connections to all other nodes pass through them.
• Bonder – members in a network that if removed would fragment the entire network more than any other member.
• Bridge – a node that connects/links two different groups together in a network.
• Centrality- indicates which actors are most engaged and which are peripheral
• Community- a group of people who share a common interest
• Cluster – a group of nodes in a network that are more densely connected to each other than to other nodes in the network.
• Density – the number of actually-occurring relations or ties as a proportion of the number of theoretically-possible relations or ties.
• Distance-calculates the average number of steps for any network actor to reach another actor
• Ego-alter approach- a data collection approach; the network expands a set number of times
• In-degree (prominence) – nodes that are identified/named the most by others in a network.
• Inclusiveness – the percentage of nodes that are connected to other nodes in the network. The more nodes are isolated (no connection to any other nodes in a network) the lower the inclusiveness.
• Node – represents a person, group, and/or organization in a network.
• Core- a highly interrelated group of nodes at the center of a network; typically hold the network together.
• Periphery- a group of nodes that are at the edge of the network and therefore less connected than those nodes located in the core.
• Out-degree (influential) – nodes that report many interactions with other nodes.
• Tie/Links – represents the connections between nodes in a network.
• Reciprocity- measures the extent to which relationships reported by one actor are confirmed by the other actor.
• Snowball Approach- a data collection approach; the network expands until all actors are identified

Causal Loop Diagram Terms

• Causal Loop Diagrams: A systems analysis tool that visually maps conceptual elements/parts/variables of a system along with their interactions and relationships.
• Variable: Any factor that can change and is related to the phenomenon under investigation.
• Linear: In the context of CLDs, linear is a type of relationship between two variables that is proportional, reproducible, and additive.
• Feedback Structures: Interactions and relationships that underlie patterns of behaviors or outcomes in a given system.
• Intervention points: Places that you can intervene in a system to bring about change.
• High-leverage intervention points: Places that you can intervene in a system to bring about lasting, system-wide change with minimal resources.
• Low-leverage intervention points: Places that you can intervene in a system to bring about limited/temporary change with relatively large amount of resources.
• STEEP Factors: Social, technological, economic, environmental and political factors.
• Feedback Loop: a series of relationships that form a complete, closed loop. Through this loop, a change in a variable travels through other variables in the loop and eventually feeds into itself. Facilitates non-linear thinking as an effect in the system turns into an input into the same system through the circular process captured.
• Root Cause: The underlying reasons in a system that lead to the emergence of a problem.
• Causal Pathways: A trail of cause-effect relationships that help trace first, second and third degree drivers of an outcome.
• Leverage Analysis: A type of analysis that aims to identify the most effective points in a system to intervene for positive change.
• Mental Model: Someone’s understanding of how something operates. It is informed by perceptions, biases, beliefs, experiences, and knowledge.
• Reinforcing loop: A loop in which the series of relationships captured causes exponential growth or spiraling decline in the phenomenon of interest.
• Balancing loop: A loop in which the series of relationships captured represent an opposing force to change in the system.
• Trend Analysis: A type of analysis that reviews recent trends about selected variables to anticipate the direction of change expected within a system.
• Cascading Effects: Waves of effects experienced in a system that are triggered by a change in a given variable.
• Complex adaptive systems: A complex system that is comprised of interacting intelligent actors. These actors adapt their behavior in light of their experiences, interactions with other actors and changing conditions and perceptions. As a result, the overall system also changes. In these systems, behavior patterns emerge as a result of interactions of its many actors rather than an external intervention or organization. This concept applies to biological, natural, and ecological systems as well as social systems.
• Story-boarding: A presentation style in which smaller pieces of ideas/findings are organized into consecutive scenes to slowly build the overall story.
• Stocks and Flows: Stocks represent the concept of accumulation in a system and refer to the quantity or level of a variable at a particular point in time (e.g., population). Flows (rates) refer to those variables whose quantities are measured over an interval of time (e.g., birth and death rates). Flows are closely associated with stocks as they may be inflowing or outflowing, changing a stock’s value. To know how a stock variable will behave, we need to know how respective flows are changing. This will allow us to see “its net rate of change” (Sterman 2000, 140).
• Stock and Flow Diagrams: A quantitative system dynamics model that is used for decision-making purposes. It is simulated to understand the net effects in a system of a change in a given variable(s).

PARTICIPATORY SYSTEMS ANALYSIS KEY TERMS

• Interrelationships: The ways in which two or more issues or actors are connected and affect one another.
• Perspectives: A particular way of seeing, considering or understanding something.
• Maps of actors, relationships, forces and feedback loops: Graphic representations of the key elements of a system. They are important tools for PSA because (i) they help the system actors to focus their attention on their own system - not on each other, which helps to reduce conflict and (ii) capture the conversations and agreements between system actors, external experts and the project team.
• Who Does, Who Invests, Who Benefits: A slogan that is at the heart of systemic facilitation and that helps the project team and system actors to reflect seriously about sustainability. This version is inspired on the one used by market systems development practitioners. It was proposed and widely disseminated by the M4P Guidelines produced by DFID and SDC. The original is “who does, who pays” and focuses on economic transactions.
• In local systems, the actors also do things that are motivated by incentives other than money. There are also externalities that benefit or affect actors who are not involved in the core transaction. Two examples could be:
• Farmers grow rice because end-buyers invest part of their money to buy it. Most actors in the value chain benefit but communities downstream a nearby river suffer because water is contaminated with pesticides. In this case, there is a benefits mismatch. Regardless the economic benefits for all those in the value chain of rice, it is likely that at some point the communities downstream will oppose the development of rice production.
• Women in a community have organised themselves into a grassroots organisation to advocate for more economic opportunities and access to credit (for themselves). They have gained political support from local leaders who see political benefits in this. Local entrepreneurs respond positively with local sourcing programs and banks create special credit products for them. Here, women do and invest, women, politicians and banks benefit (or perceive a potential benefit). It is possible that many husbands perceive a threat (a negative benefit). If they are not involved, they could eventually hamper the initiative.
• Entry points: Parts or issues of the system that represent an opportunity for the team to engage, build trust and start “unlocking” the system. For example, farmers have mentioned the importance of improving seed varieties to increase incomes and reduce pesticide use. Through the PSA, you discovered that there is a well-connected agricultural distribution company who would be interested in piloting an improved-seeds distribution model targeting marginalized farmers. This is a key entry point. You help the company carry out a successful pilot and with the evidence of this success, you organize a business meeting with competitors to show them what the company achieved. As a result, two similar companies decide to adopt the new business model.
• No-go zones: Are parts or issues in the system that will be very difficult to change with the available resources. For example, you discovered that improving a road would allow farmers to sell their produce 40% cheaper in the local market but the government has confirmed that resources for this will not be allocated during the current budget period. Can the products reach the market by boat? Is the value of the product so high that buyers will take higher risks and costs to pick it up at the farm gate? If so, why is this not happening already?
• Ethical implications: Every development project has consequences for people and the ecosystem. If the project goes well, most consequences will be positive but it is practically impossible for all consequences to be positive (or to be perceived as such by all the actors). Even seemingly straightforward initiatives like a children vaccination program, will have detractors who base their criticisms on religious beliefs or inconclusive scientific evidence about long-term side effects.
• Project teams working on local systems development must use their own analysis and PSA to identify potential ethical issues, help the system actors discuss as openly as possible about them, and design interventions with the stakeholders that avoid or minimize harmful or offensive outcomes. The following are key issues to consider:
• Human dignity.
• Special care to children and vulnerable people.
• Consideration to personal safety of team members and system actors -especially in conflict-ridden or violent contexts.
• Sensitivity and respect to religious and cultural beliefs.
• Environmental protection.
• Transparency about use of information gathered during PSA and respect to confidentiality agreements.
• Disclosure to the system actors of assumptions, biases, preconceptions used by the team.

Ethnography Terms

• Ethnography: writing about people; the primary tool for data collection and analysis among anthropologists, sociologists, and increasingly historians, and political scientists
• Cultural immersion: living with the community, group, or settlement under study, and participating in various aspects of the people’s daily lives.
• Domain Analysis: the study of how people in a group place objects or think about lists of things that somehow go together. The way people categorize the world around them – physical, observable or conceptual things.
• Consensus Analysis: a method of analysis under domain analysis that is a way of conceptualizing and coping with individual variability; as a theory, it specifies the conditions under which agreement among people can be seen as a sign of knowledge
• Decision Modeling: A method of predicting the choices that people make under specific circumstances. Any recurring decision can be modeled based on asking questions, sorting out some logical rules about how the questions have to be ordered and laying out the order in a picture or in writing.
• Social Network Analysis: the process of investigating social structures through the use of networks and graph theory. It characterizes networked structures in terms of nodes (individual actors, people, or things within the network) and the ties, edges, or links (relationships or interactions) that connect them
• Emic perspective: insider’s view and understanding of a system or phenomenon.
• Etic perspective: outsider’s view and understanding of a system or phenomenon.
• Open Ended Interviews: Broad/Deep Listening dialogues between ethnographer and respondent where the conversation is not structured and the respondent usually determines the direction and nature of conversation in an organic dialogue with the ethnographer
• Semi-Structured Interviews: an interview style which uses a list of themes around which the questions will be asked and which will provide limited structure to the interview. The responses are usually in the narrative form.
• Structured Interviews: an interview style which uses scripted questions that call for elaborate narrative responses but do not allow for deviation from the questions.
• Focus Group Discussions: A data collection technique in which the ethnographer usually asks structured questions of a small group of respondents, either by asking questions of individuals in the focus group in turn, or by allowing the focus group to determine the nature and order of responses.
• Questionnaire-Based Surveys: A data collection technique that uses pre-established questionnaire tools to increase sample size and ask questions that have already been tested and verified through participant observation and other forms of verification.