Towards a Plurality of Methods in Project Evaluation: A Contextualised Approach to Understanding Impact Trajectories and Efficacy

Michael Woolcock, January 2009, BWPI Working Paper 73

“Understanding the efficacy of development projects requires not only a plausible counterfactual, but an appropriate match between the shape of impact trajectory over time and the deployment of a corresponding array of research tools capable of empirically discerning such a trajectory. At present, however, the development community knows very little, other than by implicit assumption, about the expected shape of the impact trajectory from any given sector or project type, and as such is prone to routinely making attribution errors. Randomisation per se does not solve this problem. The sources and manifestations of these problems are considered, along with some constructive suggestions for responding to them. ”

Michael Woolcock is Professor of Social Science and Development Policy, and Research Director of the Brooks World Poverty Institute, at the University of Manchester.

[RD Comment: Well worth reading, more than once]

PS: See also the more recent “Guest Post: Michael Woolcock on The Importance of Time and Trajectories in Understanding Project Effectiveness” on the Development Impact blog, 5th May 2011

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