Abstract

Development effectiveness by governments and development funders requires that their actions result in sustainable impact at scale, i.e., that they address identified development problems to a significant and measurable extent and on a sustained basis. In most cases, sustainable impact at scale cannot be achieved over short time horizons or spontaneously. It requires deliberate, systematic, and sustained action by public and private agencies, supported by third-party funders, in pursuit of a trajectory of action (“scaling pathway”) that takes a specific intervention or a set of policy or institutional reforms as the starting point and eventually leads to sustainable impact at scale.  

This paper draws on the growing scaling literature and practice and on the work of the Scaling Community of Practice over the decade of its existence. It presents a framework primarily for public sector-driven scaling by looking at scaling through three different lenses: (i) the scaling pathway from innovation to sustainable impact at scale; (ii) the relationship between scaling and system change in the pursuit of sustainable impact at scale; and (iii) implications for the prevailing project-based approaches.   The paper then consolidates these three perspectives in a holistic approach to scaling that incorporates relevant aspects of systems change and the dynamics of operating in a project world.  The paper concludes with a set of core questions for practitioners. 

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