Improving the evaluation system to deliver impact

Evaluation systems are driven by different interests. As such, the evaluation of impact is rooted not only in operational structures and institutions, but also in the incentives and behavioural norms of relevant stakeholders – and it is these factors that influence, for example, what is commissioned and what constitutes credible or ‘good enough’ evidence of impact. In recent years, the emphasis has been very much on evaluation design and specific methodologies, but far less attention has been paid to the commissioner-evaluator relationship and the wider political economy. Yet, it is these factors that often profoundly shape an evaluation, its influence and its impact - and often much more than a specific methodology.

The focus of CDI’s work is on:

  • 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.
  • Encouraging debates on ethics and values in evaluation
  • Learning from evaluation practice, and the role of ethics and values

Latest publications

This panel discussion is supported by the Institute of Development Studies' Department for International Development Accountable Grant, with a view to continue a dialogue around the use and application of ethics in impact evaluation.

The event was hosted by the Centre for Development Impact (CDI), a joint initiative between IDS, Itad and the University of East Anglia. It builds on previous research conducted by the CDI to open up debate on ethics within the field of impact evaluation.

July 2016

Realist evaluation provides valuable insights into how and why programmes lead to change, and can generate transferable lessons to help practitioners roll out or scale up an intervention. However, as yet there are few standards and guidelines governing what counts as a ‘good’ realist evaluation.

April 2016

This CDI Practice Paper by Richard Longhurst, Peter Wichmand and Burt Perrin discusses how evaluability assessments (EAs) can support the choice of evaluation approaches for determining impact, drawing on recent experiences of the International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour of the International Labour Office.

March 2016

Latest blog posts

CDI’s network has been growing fast. Last month we conducted our first ever survey of the 3,500 email subscribers in our community (from 9th to 22nd August) – a huge thank you to all those who participated.

September 2016

In the last fifteen years a new generation of investors and fund managers has emerged seeking social and environmental returns alongside financial returns. But who are the key players?

July 2016

Earlier this month, I was at 3ie’s Evidence Week 2016, and on a panel discussing ethics in evaluation alongside Heather Lanthorn (IDInsights) and Penny Hawkins (UK Department for International Development).

April 2016

Latest news

Working with Wilton Park, the Centre for Development Impact (CDI) recently co-hosted a major international conference on 'New Frontiers for Evaluation'. The gathering brought together investors, evaluators, academia and civil society organisations to debate a new agenda for evaluation.

September 2015