RCTs for empowerment and accountability programmes

A GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report, Date: 01.04.2011, 14 pages, available as pdf.

Query: To what extent have randomised control trials been used to successfully measure the results of empowerment and accountability processes or programmes?
Enquirer: DFID
Helpdesk response
Key findings: This report examines the extent to which RCTs have been used successfully to measure empowerment and accountability processes and programmes. Field experiments present immense opportunities, but the report cautions that they are more suited to measuring short-term results with short causal chains and less suitable for complex interventions. The studies have also demonstrated divergent results, possibly due to different programme designs. The literature highlights that issues of scale, context, complexity, timeframe, coordination and bias in the selection of programmes also determine the degree of success reported. It argues that researchers using RCTs should make more effort to understand contextual issues, consider how experiments can be scaled up to measure higher-order processes, and focus more on learning. The report suggests strategies such as using qualitative methods, replicating studies in different contexts and using randomised methods with field activities to overcome the limitations in the literature.
1. Overview
2. General Literature (annotated bibliography)
3. Accountability Studies (annotated bibliography)
4. Empowerment Studies (annotated bibliography)



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