The Mixed Methods Approach to Evaluation

Michael Bamberger, Social Impact Concept Note Series No.1, June 2013

Available as pdf

Executive summary
“Over the past decade there has been an increased demand for mixed-methods evaluations to better understand the complexity of international development interventions and in recognition of the fact that no single evaluation methodology can fully capture and measure the multiple processes and outcomes that every development program involves. At the same time, no consensus has been reached by policy makers and evaluation practitioners as to what exactly constitutes a mixed-methods approach.
This SI Concept Note aims at helping that discussion by defining mixed-methods as evaluation approaches that systematically integrate quantitative and qualitative research methodologies at all stages of an evaluation. The paper further discusses the most important strengths and weaknesses of mixed-methods approaches compared to quantitative and qualitative only evaluations and lists a number  of implementation challenges and ways to address them that may be useful to both producers and consumers of performance and impact evaluations.”


Randomised controlled trials, mixed methods and policy influence in international development – Symposium

Thinking out of the black box. A 3ie-LIDC Symposium
Date: 17:30 to 19:30 Monday, May 23rd 2011
Venue: John Snow Lecture Theatre, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) Keppel Street, London, WC1E 7HT

Professor Nancy Cartwright, Professor of Philosophy, London School of Economics
Professor Howard White, Executive Director, 3ie
Chair: Professor Jeff Waage, Director, LIDC

Randomised  Controlled  Trials  (RCTs)  have  moved  to  the  forefront  of  the development  agenda  to  assess  development  results  and  the  impact  of development  programs.  In  words  of  Esther  Duflo  –  one  of  the  strongest advocates of RCTs – RCTs allow us to know which development efforts help and which cause harm.

But  RCTs  are  not  without  their  critics,  with  questions  raised  about  their usefulness, both  to provide more substantive  lessons about  the program being evaluated and whether the findings can be generalized to other settings.

This symposium brings perspectives from the philosophy of science, and a mixed method approach to impact analysis, to this debate.

For more information contact:

PS1: Nancy Cartwright wrote “Are RCTs the Gold Standard?” in 2007

PS2: The presentation by Howard White is now available here  – but without audio