Diffusion of Evidence-based Interventions or Practice-based Positive Deviations

  • Arvind Singhal
  • Peer J Svenkerud
Keywords: positive deviance, diffusion of innovations, evidence-based practice, practice-based evidence

Abstract

Scholars and practitioners of communication and social change are obsessed with more efficiently diffusing evidence-based innovations. While, there is value in doing so, it is important to recognise that evidence-based practice subscribes to the tenets of the classical diffusion of innovations paradigm—a reification of outside-in, expert-driven approaches to solving problems, and a tendency to overlook, marginalise, and reject local solutions. In this article,  through a detailed case study analysis of a highly effective malnutrition project in Vietnam that employed the Positive Deviance (PD) approach, we argue that communication for development scholars should go beyond evidence-based practice to favour more practice-based evidence—that is, the enablement of communities to discover the wisdom they already have and then to act on it. PD is an assets-based approach that identifies the deviant and variant practices about what is going right in a community to amplify it, rather than focusing on what is going wrong in a community and fixing it from the outside. In the PD approach, internal change agents present social proof to their peers that complex problems can be solved without additional resources. Given the solutions are generated locally, and distilled through concrete action steps, they are more likely to be owned by potential adopters and be sustained. 

Author Biographies

Arvind Singhal

Samuel S. and Edna H. Marston Endowed Professor of Communication at The University of Texas at El Paso and appointed Professor 2, Inland School of Business and Social Sciences, Inland University of Applied Sciences, Norway. His teaching and research interests include the diffusion of innovations, the positive deviance approach, the entertainment-education communication strategy, and liberating interactional structures. 

Peer J Svenkerud

Dean of Inland School of Business and Social Sciences, Inland University of Applied Sciences, Norway.  His research interests include the diffusion of innovations, corporate social responsibility, organizational communication, and the positive deviance approach.

Published
2018-12-28
How to Cite
Singhal, A., & Svenkerud, P. (2018). Diffusion of Evidence-based Interventions or Practice-based Positive Deviations. The Journal of Development Communication, 29(2), 34-44. Retrieved from http://jdc.journals.unisel.edu.my/ojs/index.php/jdc/article/view/134