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Integrative propositional analysis for understanding and reducing poverty

Steven E. Wallis (ASK MATT Solutions, Petaluma, California, USA and Capella University, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA)
Bernadette Wright (Meaningful Evidence, LLC, Falls Church, Virginia, USA)


ISSN: 0368-492X

Article publication date: 6 November 2018

Issue publication date: 13 June 2019




Current approaches to understanding and resolving the problem of poverty have not proved effective. This paper aims to provide a new explanation of why we have failed and what must be done to improve our understanding, decision-making, action and success.


Integrative propositional analysis is used to evaluate and synthesize theoretical and practical perspectives on poverty from five academic disciplines and five disparate organizations.


Individual theoretical perspectives were found to have low levels of complexity and systemicity.

Research limitations/implications

Clear research directions are shown to accelerate improvements in understanding. Additionally, results may provide a useful guide for developing computer models of poverty.

Practical implications

The causal knowledge map of synthesized theories suggests where practice may be relatively effective and where unanticipated consequences are more likely to occur.

Social implications

Policy decision-making to address the problem of poverty is not likely to lead to successful resolution. Thus, poverty is likely to continue until we develop a more systemic understanding.


This interdisciplinary paper provides a new structural perspective on why we have not been able to solve the poverty problem – and shows how far we have yet to go to reach success.



Wallis, S.E. and Wright, B. (2019), "Integrative propositional analysis for understanding and reducing poverty", Kybernetes, Vol. 48 No. 6, pp. 1264-1277.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

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