The road to nowhere? Results based management in international cooperation

howard white provides a critique of this approach

Results-based management has become a fact of life for development agencies. They might hope to learn from the experience of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) which has already gone down this road. It is indeed instructive that USAID has come back up the road again saying ‘there’s nothing down there’. But development agencies have been rightly criticised in the past for paying too little attention to the final impact of their activities, so we would like to support a results-based approach. But we should not do so blindly when it suffers from the severe limitations outlined below. Serious attempts to link agency performance to developmental outcomes must rely upon the log-frame. The log-frame is not a universal panacea but, used properly, can force agencies into a critical examination of the nature of their programmes and projects, and the results they achieve.

This posting is available in full at the Euforic website

M&E blogs: A List

  • EvalThoughts, by Amy Germuth, Durham, NC, United States, President of EvalWorks, LLC a woman-owned small evaluation and survey research consulting business in Durham, NC.
  • Evaluation and Benchmarking. “This weblog is an on-line workspace for the whole of Victorian government Benchmarking Community of Practice.”
  • M&E Blog, by…?
  • Aid on the Edge of Chaos, by Ben Ramalingam
  • Design, Monitoring and Evaluation, by LARRY DERSHEM – Tbilisi, Georgia
  • Managing for Impact: About “Strengthening Management for Impact” for MFIs
  • Genuine Evaluation: “Patricia J Rogers and E Jane Davidson blog about real, genuine, authentic, practical evaluation”
  • Practical Evaluation, by Samuel Norgah
  • AID/IT M&E Blog: “…is written by Paul Crawford, and is part of a wider AID/IT website”
  • Blog: Evaluateca: Spanish language evaluation blog maintained by Rafael Monterde Diaz. Information, news, views and critical comments on Evaluation
  • Empowerment Evaluation Blog “This is a place for exchanges and discussions about empowerment evaluation practice, theory, and current debates in the literature” Run by  Dr. David Fetterman”
  • E-valuation: “constructing a good life through the exploration of value and valuing” by Sandra Mathison,Professor, Faculty of Education, University of British Columbia
  • Intelligent Measurement. This blog is created by Richard Gaunt in London and Glenn O’Neil in Geneva and focuses on evaluation and measurement in communications, training, management and other fields.
  • Managing for Impact: Let’s talk about MandE! “Welcome to the dedicated SMIP ERIL blog on M&E for managing for impact!An IFAD funded Regional Programme, SMIP (Strengthening Management for Impact) is working with pro-poor initiatives in eastern & southern Africa to build capacities to better manage towards impact. It does so through training courses for individuals, technical support to projects & programmes, generating knowledge, providing opportunities for on-the-job-training, and policy dialogue.”
  • MCA Monitor Blog “…is a part of CGD’s MCA Monitor Initiative, which tracks the effectiveness of the US Millennium Challenge Account. Sheila Herrling, Steve Radelet and Amy Crone, key members of CGD’s MCA Monitor team, contribute regularly to the blog. We encourage you to join the discussion by commenting on any post”
  • OutcomesBlog.Org “Dr Paul Duignan on real world strategy, outcomes, evaluation & monitoring Dr Paul Duignan is a specialist in outcomes, performance management, strategic decision making, evaluation and assessing research and evidence as the basis for decision making. He has developed the area of outcomes theory and its application in Systematic Outcomes Analysis, the outcomes software DoView and the simplified approach to his work Easy Outcomes. He works at an individual, organizational and societal level to develop ways of identifying and measuring outcomes which facilitate effective action. For a bio see here.
  • Rick on the Road: “Reflections on the monitoring and evaluation of development aid projects, programmes and policies, and development of organisation’s capacity to do the same. This blog also functions as the Editorial section of the MandE NEWS website
  • The Usable Blog “A blog on “Thoughts, ideas and resources for non-profit organizations and funders about the independent sector in general and program evaluation in particular” By Eric Graig “
  • The MSC Translations blog is maintained by Rick Davies, and is part of the MandE NEWS website. The purpose of this blog is:1. To make available translations of the MSC Guide in languages other than English. 2. To solicit and share comments on the quality of these translations, so they can be improved.The original English version can be found here The ‘Most Significant Change’ (MSC) Technique: A Guide to Its Use
  • Zen and the art of monitoring & evaluation “This blog is some of the rambling thoughts of Paul Crawford, a monitoring & evaluation (M&E) consultant for international aid organisations” Paul is based in Australia.

And other lists of M&E blogs

Improving health services through community score cards. A case study from Andhra Pradesh, India

Case study 1, Andhra Pradesh, India : improving health services through community score cards
MISRA, Vivek et al , August 2007

This eight page note summarises the findings, processes, concerns, and lessons learned from a project in Andhra Pradesh – one of six pilot projects aimed at the application of specific social accountability tools in different contexts of service delivery


Bob Williams and Iraj Imam (eds.)
EdgePress/American Evaluation Association (2007)

Systems Concepts in Evaluation: An Expert Anthology brings
together a wide range of systems concepts, methodologies and
methods and applies them to evaluation settings. This book
addresses the questions:

• What is a systems approach?
• What makes it different from other approaches?
• Why is it relevant to evaluation?

The 14 chapters cover a wide range of systems concepts and methods. Most chapters are case study
based and describe the use of systems concepts in real life evaluations. The approaches and methods
covered include:

• System Dynamics (both quantitative and qualitative)
• Cybernetics and the Viable System Model
• Soft Systems Methodology
• Critical Systems Thinking
• Complex Adaptive Systems

There are also overview chapters that explore the history and diversity of systems approaches and their
potential within the evaluation field. There is a substantial introduction by Gerald Midgley to the key
developments in systems concepts and methods over the past 50 years, and this explores the
implications for evaluation of each of those developments.

Although focused on evaluation, the book is a valuable source for anyone interested in systems concepts,
action research and reflective inquiry. It is useful for both teaching and practice.

Chapters :
Introduction, Iraj Imam, Amy LaGoy, Bob Williams and authors
Systems Thinking for Evaluation, Gerald Midgley
A Systemic Evaluation of an Agricultural Development: A Focus on the Worldview Challenge,
Richard Bawden
System Dynamics-based Computer Simulations and Evaluation, Daniel D Burke
A Cybernetic Evaluation of Organizational Information Systems, Dale Fitch, Ph.D.
Soft Systems in a Hardening World: Evaluating Urban Regeneration, Kate Attenborough
Using Dialectic Soft Systems Methodology as an Ongoing Self-evaluation Process for a
Singapore Railway Service Provider, Dr Boon Hou Tay & Mr Bobby, Kee Pong Lim
Evaluation Based on Critical Systems Heuristics, Martin Reynolds
Human Systems Dynamics: Complexity-based Approach to a Complex Evaluation, Glenda H
Eoyang, Ph.D.
Evaluating Farm and Food Systems in the US, Kenneth A Meter
Systemic Evaluation in the Field of Regional Development, Richard Hummelbrunner
Evaluation in Complex Governance Arenas: the Potential of Large System Action Research,
Danny Burns
Evolutionary and Behavioral Characteristics of Systems, Jay Forrest
Concluding Comments, Iraj Imam, Amy LaGoy, Bob Williams and authors


NAME : Systems Concepts in Evaluation : An Expert Reader
EDITORS : Bob Williams and Iraj Imam
PAGES : 222pp

ISBN 978-0-918528-22-3 paperback
ISBN 978-0-918528-21-6 hardbound


EdgePress/American Evaluation Association (2007)


Available via Amazon : Hardback only. $US36 plus postage

Pathways for change: monitoring and evaluation

This Brief is an edited summary, prepared by Susanne Turrall, of a paper written by Kath Pasteur
and Susanne Turrall (2006): A synthesis of monitoring and evaluation experience in the Renewable
Natural Resources Research Strategy

“Monitoring and evaluation (M&E) plays a central role in ensuring accountability, informing decision- making and, more broadly, facilitating learning. The programmes within the DFID-funded Renewable Natural Resources Research Strategy (RNRRS) have developed some innovative methods of M&E. The RNRRS also saw an evolution in thinking in M&E, moving from a focus on the M&E of research products to a recognition that the context and mechanisms for adoption of research products are equally important, as is the effect on poverty reduction.”
Continue reading “Pathways for change: monitoring and evaluation”

Horizontal Evaluation: Fostering Knowledge Sharing and Program Improvement within a Network

Authors: Thiele, Graham; Devaux, Andre; Velasco, Claudio; Horton, Douglas
American Journal of Evaluation, v28 n4 p493-508 2007

Abstract: Horizontal evaluation combines self-assessment and external evaluation by peers. Papa Andina, a regional network that works to reduce rural poverty in the Andean region by fostering innovation in potato production and marketing, has used horizontal evaluations to improve the work of local project teams and to share knowledge within the network. In a horizontal evaluation workshop, a project team and peers from other organizations independently assess the strengths and weaknesses of a research and development (R&D) approach being developed and then compare the assessments. Project team members formulate recommendations for improving the R&D approach, and peers consider ways to apply it back home. Practical results of horizontal evaluation have included strengthening the R&D approaches being developed, experimenting with their use at new sites, improvements in other areas of work, and strengthened interpersonal relations among network members. (Contains 2 tables.)”

Also available as ILAC Brief:

And a  Spanish version of the same Brief

Evaluation Of Citizens’ Voice & Accountability – Review Of The Literature & Donor Approaches Report

O’Neill, T., Foresti, M. and Hudson, A. (2007) Evaluation of Citizens’ Voice and Accountability: Review of the Literature and Donor Approaches. London: DFID.


1.3 A core group of DAC partners are collaborating on a joint evaluation of development
aid for strengthening citizens’ voice and the accountability of public institutions. The
Overseas Development Institute has been contracted to undertake the first stage of
this evaluation, which involves the development and piloting of an evaluation
framework. This literature review is the first output from this first phase. It aims to: (i)
review the theoretical debates on voice and accountability and how they relate to
development; (ii) review the different donor approaches to supporting voice and
accountability and identify commonalities and differences across contexts; (iii)
provide an overview of evaluation theory and practice in relation to voice and
accountability interventions; and (iv) identify key knowledge gaps in relation to the
effectiveness of donors in supporting voice and accountability.

1.4 This review has three main sections. Section 2 surveys the academic literature to
present current thinking on what voice and accountability means, how they operate in
practice and how they relate to the achievement of broader development objectives.
Section 3 turns to the donors’ own understanding of voice and accountability as set
out in their relevant policy and guidance documents. It discusses how the donors see
voice and accountability contributing to their poverty reduction mandates and what
approaches they have adopted to strengthen them, including in different contexts.
Section 4 considers the main issues relating to the evaluation of interventions to
strengthen voice and accountability. It first reviews some of the methodological
debates in the theoretical literature before summarising the donors’ own evaluative
efforts in this field, identifying both common findings and key gaps in their

1. Introduction 1
2. Voice and Accountability: A view from the literature 3
Voice and accountability: a basic static model 3
Voice and accountability: a complex dynamic reality 5
Relating voice and accountability to other key concepts 6
Voice, accountability and development outcomes 9
3. Voice and accountability: A view from the donors 13
Why do donors want to strengthen voice and accountability? 13
What strategies do donors adopt for strengthening voice and accountability? 18
Do donor approaches take account of context? 25
4. Evaluating voice and accountability 29
Approaches and frameworks for evaluating voice and accountability interventions 29
What have donors learnt about their effectiveness? 36
5. Conclusions 47
Annexes 49
References 53

Negotiated Learning: Collaborative Monitoring for Forest Resource Management

(via Pelican email list)

Dear all

Niels has asked me to make you aware of a new publication that some
‘Pelican-ers’ might find relevant.

I have edited a book on how learning and monitoring can become better
‘friends’ than is currently usually the case. The book comes off the press
tomorrow. The full reference: Guijt, Irene, ed. (2007). Negotiated
Learning: Collaborative Monitoring for Forest Resource Management
Washington DC, Resources for the Future/Center for International Forestry
Research. Although the cases in the book focus on natural resource (forest)
management, the issues about how to create genuine learning through the
construction, negotiation and implementation of a monitoring process will
have much wider relevance.

Full details on how to obtain the book can be found at : ,
where the book is described as follows :

“The first book to critically examine how monitoring can be an effective
tool in participatory resource management, Negotiated Learning draws on the
first-hand experiences of researchers and development professionals in
eleven countries in Africa, Asia, and South America. Collective monitoring
shifts the emphasis of development and conservation professionals from
externally defined programs to a locally relevant process. It focuses on
community participation in the selection of the indicators to be monitored
as well as in the learning and application of knowledge from the data that
are collected. As with other aspects of collaborative management,
collaborative monitoring emphasizes building local capacity so that
communities can gradually assume full responsibility for the management of
their resources. The cases in Negotiated Learning highlight best practices
but stress that collaborative monitoring is a relatively new area of theory
and practice. The cases focus on four themes: the
challenge of data-driven monitoring in forest systems that supply multiple
products and serve diverse functions and stakeholders; the importance of
building upon existing dialogue and learning systems; the need to better
understand social and political differences among local users and other
stakeholders; and the need to ensure the continuing adaptiveness of
monitoring systems.”

PS: Links to full texts of some chapters






Learning by Design

Bredeweg 31, 6668 AR Randwijk, The Netherlands
Tel. (0031) 488-491880 Fax. (0031) 488-491844

Stories of Significance: Redefining Change – An assortment of community voices and articulations

(via the AIDS Alliance India website)

“A report based on an evaluation of a programme on “Community Driven Approaches to Address the Feminisation of HIV/AIDS in India” by means of the ‘Most Significant Change’ Technique: Using the participatory evaluation technique, Most Significant Change (MSC), this report derives its findings from the MSC evaluation of work from Alliance India’s recently concluded DFID -supported programme on community-driven approaches for addressing the feminisation of HIV/AIDS in India. The MSC technique is a participatory monitoring tool based on gathering and analysing stories of important or significant changes from a cross-section of target groups, to provide a richer picture of the impact of programme interventions. This document is written in a lucid manner and contains many new insights for the purposes of learning for future programming in relation to sexual and reproductive health and HIV/AIDS integration and HIV/AIDS programming for women.”

(English) Stories of Significance Redefining Change.pdf

For information about how to get a printed copy of this report, please contact: India HIV/AIDS Alliance