An unprecedented revolution has swept over the development scene since the turn of the century: it is market-led and emphasises the mobilisation of private energies, funds and skills. A brand new cast of influential development actors is transforming the state aid monopoly. The development evaluation discipline, shaped by public sector concerns, has not kept pace with this deep-seated transformation. It has failed to deliver adequate and timely evidence about development impact. Nor has it addressed the basic fiduciary concerns associated with private sector funding or tapped the promise of the new information technologies.

The Centre for Development Impact (CDI) aims to encourage debate, promote innovation and foster alliances to identify, design and pilot evaluation solutions that will meet the demands for impact evidence in market-oriented development programmes and interventions.

Our work spans four core themes: Compexity and methods; Synthesis and knowledge; Democractic approaches; and the Evaluation system. 

Evaluating impact through complex and dynamic processes of change
  • Exploring how complexity science can contribute to evaluating impact.
  • Developing emergent evaluation methodologies from the social and natural sciences.
  • Developing ways to assess impact where control groups & large-n data is not possible.
  • Learning how best to evaluate the impact of complex interventions in different contexts
Democratic and participatory approaches to achieve impact
  • Developing democratic and participatory approaches for assessing impact.
  • Learning how deliberative processes can be used to empower citizens to use evidence.
Improving the evaluation system to deliver impact
  • Exploring the political economy of the evaluation system
  • Developing debates on the ethics and values of evaluation
  • Sharing understanding about the political economy of the commissioner-evaluator relationship.
Synthesising diverse evidence of impact
  • Exploring less well known ways to synthesize and weigh up diverse forms of evidence.
  • Developing approaches to make better use of ‘big data’ to assess impact.
  • Learning about how evidence of impact informs decision-making and knowledge.