Feed the Future
This project is part of the U.S. Government's global hunger and food security initiative.

Practical Tools for Measuring System Health

Organization(s): 
MarketShare Associates; ACDI/VOCA; The Canopy Lab; DAI
Author(s): 
Tim Sparkman
Mike Field
Eric Derks
Institutional Sponsor: 
United States Agency for International Development (USAID)
Publication date: 
Wednesday, August 10, 2016

This brief paper describes an effort to build a set of basic and easily used tools for monitoring system dynamics, or system health. The term, “system dynamics,” refers to the way actors, or agents, within a system act and relate to one another. It includes flows between agents as well as the norms that govern the way groups of agents in a system make seemingly independent decisions. While most analytical approaches used in the market systems field characterize static features of market agents, the tools discussed in this paper are an attempt to characterize market systems in motion. In other words, system dynamics happen when agents do things—these tools are intended to describe the things they do in a way that gives insight into the broader system.