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Complexities of adaptation and change for community-based agencies in South Africa: investigating the introduction of new development models for inclusive growth.

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Karen ElliottORCiD


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Building on an existing network in the Tsitsikamma area of South Africa, we seek to refine a new development model, establishing its viability through testing in real world contexts while demonstrating replicability within restricted development regions. We include contextual research in three pilot study communities and introduce the model to key stakeholders; the community residents, local employers and community support bodies, then assessing the interest of agencies and their willingness to invest in this process. The main innovation arises from statist, market-driven and other predetermined models of development that were found inert in allowing adaptation to emergent and changing conditions associated with development regions. The morphogenetic approach overcomes this issue by emphasising contextual realities in communities (Archer 1979, 1995; Pretorius, 1994). Every context is unique and enables or constrains action differently, plus the context changes due to the impact of agency. Similarly, community development agencies must not only be tailor-made for the particular context but adapt as both community and agency morph over time (i.e., a Complex Adaptive System (CAS), Haynes 2003, 2008)). By identifying the conditions which provide a context of action for agents and agencies, it is possible to investigate how these factors shape the subsequent interactions of agents and how such interactions in turn, reproduce or transform the initial context supporting the emergence of inclusive growth. The emergence of inclusive growth via programmes and projects promotes community-based agents to self-organise around the introduction of the new model and adapt to change. Entire control over the models introduction is unfeasible and we take the standpoint that “order is created by the human interaction and the feedback processes within the organization” or agency (Haynes 2003: 40-1). Simply put, individuals will be supported to self-organise and develop an agency that is community-run, sustainable and accountable whilst coordinating resources in the areas of; employability, business support, food security, energy, financial services and community planning. Via a series of ‘skills audits’ through interactive and participatory methods, we investigate whether communities possess such skills for adaptation to the model and technological change, reproducing and transforming the area leading to the outcome of inclusive growth.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Brookes M, Elliott K, Pretorius D, Williams J

Publication type: Conference Proceedings (inc. Abstract)

Publication status: Published

Conference Name: 9th International Social Innovation Research Conference (ISIRC)

Year of Conference: 2017

Print publication date: 26/10/2018

Online publication date: 26/10/2018

Acceptance date: 06/10/2017