Shifting the Fundamental Dynamics of Poverty

People in Guatemala – smart people – were working harder, hiring brighter people, raising more money, doing better projects, and get- ting improved results. And yet, what they sought to eliminate—poverty— was getting worse. So, we asked what we thought was a relatively straightfor- ward question: “Do you understand the fundamental dynamics of poverty?” As it turned out, no one had an answer— not the government, NGOs, local communities, or business leaders.

We set out with CARE Latin America to understand this complex problem.We engaged leaders of the national intelligence service and the military policy and leadership institutes, on the one hand, and members of the former guerrilla movement, on the other; leaders of the Catholic church and the leading Mayan philosophers; the head of the president’s commission on local economic development and leaders in local villages; in total, 30 diverse, sometimes historically con- flicted, perspectives.

 

Spann, R. Scott and James L. Ritchie-Dunham. 2008. Shifting the Fundamental Dynamics of Poverty, The Systems Thinker, 19(7), 6-10.  Reprinted as 2012. The Promise of Systems Thinking for Shifting Fundamental Dynamics, Reflections: The SoL Journal, 11(4), 11-17.
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