A Whole New World – what next? Toby Lowe, Newcastle University

uncertainty blog


It’s been a month since we launched ‘A Whole New World: Funding and Commissioning in Complexity’ and the response has been incredible. Over 120 people came to the two launch events, and more than 1000 people read the report online in the first week. We’ve also started to have some excellent conversations about how to take this work forward.

In this post I want to briefly outline the key ideas, and talk about what we might do next.

‘New Public Management’ is dying – about time too

New Public Management (NPM) has been the dominant paradigm for public services for the last 40-odd years.  Its worldview is based on the idea that public servants cannot be trusted to organise and run public services, and so must be extrinsically motivated to perform well – by means of competitive markets and performance targets.  It seems that an increasing number of people recognise that this way of funding and commissioning public services, and other social interventions, is no longer helpful.

Complexity settings to the rescue: A new lease of life for evidence-based policy?

complexity science


CECAN Fellow Sara Giorgi shares her perspective on some of the key insights from her research.

It would be naive and, potentially, ill-advised to have evaluation solely drive policy direction. Good, open, evidence-backed policy, however, does need to be informed by evaluation results and insights.  My CECAN Fellowship provided me with a rare opportunity to investigate how evaluation is applied in real life within a government department – in this case Defra – and how it can be used to plan for future policymaking. 

Models as ‘interested amateurs’

Complexity in business


From '' 24th January 2017

Pete Barbrook-Johnson, Research Fellow at the Policy Studies Institute at the University of Westminster & Knowledge Integrator Research Fellow at the Centre for the Evaluation of Complexity Across the Nexus (CECAN) at the University of Surrey. 

How can we improve the often poor interaction and lack of genuine discussions between policy makers, experts, and those affected by policy?

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