Last week’s post about academics struggling to design their research for impact certainly got a reaction. Maybe not a twitter storm, but at least a bit of a squall. So it’s time to summarize the debate and reflect a bit. The post annoyed some people in the ‘research for impact’ community, because it was basically saying nothing much has changed. ‘The world has moved on’ …Continue reading
A couple of weeks ago I posted a fairly polemical piece about the hype around ‘payment by results’, which prompted quite a response, including a piece by CGD’s Nancy Birdsall and William Savedoff, and an excellent set of comments from a bunch of people who are much more on top of the issue than I am (not difficult, I know). Nancy argued that the problem with …Continue reading
Resilience is one of today’s omnipresent development fuzzwords, applied to individuals, communities, businesses, countries, ideas and just about everything else. But how can it best be measured? To plug their new paper on the topic, Oxfam’s measurement wonks Jonathan Lain (left) and Rob Fuller (right) argue with their imaginary non-wonk friend…… So they’ve let the beancounters loose on resilience now. Do we really have to …Continue reading
OK, Oxfam’s IT whizzes finally seem to have fixed a really frustrating problem – several thousand people who had signed up for email alerts about new FP2P posts haven’t been receiving them for the last 3 months. Many of them assumed Oxfam had finally got round to sacking me and/or I’d got fed up with blogging/gone under a bus. Sorry to disappoint – I’ve been …Continue reading
The results/value for money steamroller grinds on, with aid donors demanding more attention to measurement of impact. At first sight that’s a good thing – who could be against achieving results and knowing whether you’ve achieved them, right? Step forward Ros Eyben, Chris Roche, Irene Guijt and Cathy Shutt, who take a more sceptical look in a new book, The Politics of Results and Evidence …Continue reading
What do we know about the long-term legacy of aid programmes? Very little, so why not go and find out?
We talk a lot in the aid biz about wanting to achieve long-term impact, but most of the time, aid organizations work in a time bubble set by the duration of a project. We seldom go back a decade later and see what happened after we left. Why not? Everyone has their favourite story of the project that turned into a spectacular social movement (SEWA) …Continue reading
Measuring the difficult stuff (empowerment, resilience) and learning from the results; where has Oxfam got to?
I’m not generally a big fan of measurement fetishism (too crude, too blind to complexity and systems thinking). When I used to (mis)manage the Oxfam research team and wanted a few thousand quid for some research grant, I had to list numbers of beneficiaries (men and women). As research is a global public good, I always put 3.5bn of each. No-one ever queried it. But …Continue reading
Is ‘thinking and working politically’ compatible with results? Should advocacy ever be done in secret? Big questions at the LSE this week.
This week I found myself on a fun panel at LSE discussing ‘can politics and evidence work together?’ with Mary Kaldor (LSE), Ros Eyben (IDS) and Steven Rood (The Asia Foundation – TAF has a really interesting partnership with LSEto study its use of theories of change). Early last year, I promised to revisit the topic after this blog hosted an epic debate on the …Continue reading
New research shows aid agencies get better results if they stop trying to control their people on the ground, especially in complex environments (and performance monitoring can make it worse)
This fascinating excerpt from a recent Owen Barder speech to the little-known-but-huge Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF) covers two new papers on the management of development interventions, with big potential implications: ‘[First] a study of the evaluations of 10,000 aid projects over the last ten years from nine different development organizations. In this paper Dan Honig, from Harvard University, looks at whether different kinds of …Continue reading
I’ve been reflecting on Owen Barder’s recent post on the tensions for aid agencies between wanting to go to scale, and acknowledging that lasting development solutions have to emerge from discussions among local actors, based on local context. Seems to me we have something of an aid trilemma here – I would add in attribution to the mix as a third element. You can have …Continue reading