Practical Tools for Measuring System Health

  • Date Posted: August 10, 2016
  • Authors: Tim Sparkman, Mike Field, Eric Derks
  • Organizations/Projects: MarketShare Associates; ACDI/VOCA; The Canopy Lab; DAI
  • Document Types: Tool, Primer or Brief
  • Donor Type: Non-US Government Agency

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.

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