13/04/2023 | News

BOOK CHAPTER: PDIA in the Balkans: The Western Balkans Alumni Association (WBAA) as Positive Deviance

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Since the beginning of WBAA, the research team has acted as a nexus for diverse co-creations, blueprints and approaches to be scaled up across the association and the region. Its members ensured positioning research, science and applied science as pillars of WBAA core and actions, and have set the trails for open collaboration in science and open innovation, as well as overcoming differences of any kind and self-organizing around purpose.

One of the milestones in the history of WBAA research developments is the publication of a chapter dedicated to the association, in the book edited by our head of research team, associate professor dr. Renata Petrevska Nechkoska. The book, entitled Facilitation in Complexity: from Creation to Co-creation, from Dreaming to Co-dreaming, from Evolution to Co-evolution has been published in January 2023 by Springer Nature, in the Scopus indexed series Contributions to Management Science. The book itself is a significant WBAA alumni intellectual product, representing a functional bridge between the institutions Ghent University Belgium and St. Kliment Ohridski North Macedonia, Renata’s PhD mentors, professors dr. Geert Poels and Gjorgji Manceski, and all the co-authors from the globe, pathfinding and trailblazing multi/trans/cross/interdisciplinary blueprints, solutions, approaches on how to co-evolve together as countries, regions, as humanity.

The Editorial of the book introduces a novel strategic foresight for facilitating co-creation, where on the two continuums, four scenarios are set, to help humanity go not in the direction of co-destruction, but rather towards co-evolution, via some grassroot hopes here and there, and positive deviances already in action. The chapter for WBAA is in the part of preferable scenarios named: ‘What the world needs!’ (denoting multi-trans- cross-interdisciplinary collaboration, collective (including individual) alignment around purpose(s)) as destination where we co-dream to be. People see the greater purpose of humanity co-evolving and co-creating, while of course, the individual purposes align within the mutual direction, slowly but surely. This chapter is alongside the Three MuskEUteers for the triple transition, MultiCreation as multi-stakeholder problem-driven approach, Academia Diffusion Experiment: Trailblazing the Emergence from Co-Creation and Multi-Vortex Tornado Blueprint for Disruptive Global Co-Creation (Inspired by EUvsVirus).

The concept of positive deviance is defined by the Harvard Centre for International Development PDIA authors as: “ideas that have already been acted upon (in the change context of WB), thus being possible, and that yield positive results (solving the problem) but are not the norm (hence the notion of deviance). Finding these positive deviants, celebrating them, codifying them, and broadly diffusing the core principles of their success is crucial” (Andrews et al., 2017; Samji et al., 2018). As such, the WBAA authors introduce WHY and HOW WBAA is in fact a positive deviance to be followed in multiple and diverse fields of life. The basis for the analysis is upon the methodology for Problem Driven Iterative Adaptation, the Ishikawa diagram for the main problems in the Western Balkans Higher Education Systems, the developments with the WBAA Tracer study and how the volunteers and collaborators act progressively within that context. The editorial board for the chapter and the book enlists: Tim O’Brien, Harvard University, Center for International Development, USA, Gilles Kittel, DG REGIO, European Commission, Paulina Korsnakova, Ph.D., International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA), Amsterdam, The Netherlands among the 24 scholars and professionals who have ensured the exceptional quality and distinctiveness of the chapter and the book, in a novel process for co-creative writing and reviewing in open collaboration in science called The pheromone trail. Among the many novelties in the book, the chapter’s visualizations incorporate the graphical abstract, the real-life analogy and the arguments on the innovation in Western Balkans context on the WBAA intellectual rebellion, action and profile as distinctive force for regional improvement.

In the acknowledgements, the authors express sincere gratitude to Albert Sese Ballart, Marlene Bartes, and all the appointed persons from the European Commission, Service Provider, Ministerial Meetings participants and all WBAA-nians and supporters for investing themselves into WBAA.

The book chapter was officially promoted at the WBAA General Assembly in Belgrade, in March 2023, where some of the co-authors proudly gathered in person to showcase a truly historical contribution to the global science and practice of engaging for our better future

“As a nice but hard to achieve idea of regional, including functional ecosystems, the WBAA story is a positive one. Learning from its roadmap, governance, voluntary activism, and impact may help WB governments and citizens on how to co-create every step of a way of improvement. As some of the social media posts about WBAA-nian projects would say: “This is how Western Balkans collaborates perfectly—and voluntarily!”

Renata Petrevska Nechkoska

Edited by the Service Provider

Bitola, North Macedonia

08 April 2023


  1. Cite as: Petrevska Nechkoska, R. et al. (2023). PDIA in the Balkans: The Western Balkans Alumni Association (WBAA) as Positive Deviance. In: Petrevska Nechkoska, R., Manceski, G., Poels, G. (eds) Facilitation in Complexity. Contributions to Management Science. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-11065-8_9
  2. https://link.springer.com/book/10.1007/978-3-031-11065-8
  3. https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/bfm:978-3-031-11065-8/1?pdf=chapter%20toc
  4. https://bsc.cid.harvard.edu/about
  5. https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/bfm:978-3-031-11065-8/1?pdf=chapter%20toc