Evaluation Revisited conference enabled wider perspective on evaluative practice

Published on
May 25, 2010

On 20-21 May an international conference was held in Utrecht, The Netherlands: ‘Evaluation revisited: improving the quality of evaluative practice by embracing complexity’.

The conference aimed to contribute to clarity in the development sector about what constitutes rigor, i.e. core values and quality standards, for evaluative practice in development that recognizes the complexity of societal transformation. There were some 150 participants from all over the world.

Dr. Patricia Rogers held a keynote speech to explore the implications of ‘complicated’ and ‘complexity’ for evaluative practice. Sheela Patel held an inspiring speech to build a bridge between current evaluative practice and the challenges faced in complex societal change processes. Maarten Brouwer addressed ‘Development Cooperation at Crossroads’, with interesting food for thought.

Some nine case clinics provided examples of ‘rigorous’ evaluative practice embracing complexity. ‘Methods and more markets’ provided an opportunity to share (partly preselected) methodologies, examples or deepen particular issues that participants wished to address in this context. Through ‘ritual dissent’ half of the participants then tried to answer the core question of the conference, ‘What constitutes rigorous evaluative practice for embracing complexity?’, whilst the other half looked at strategic opportunities to ensure space and capacity for rigorous evaluative practice that embraces complexity and influences societal transformation. A panel reviewed and discussed the outputs of these sessions.

Strong support

Generally there was a strong support for better understanding and capturing of complexity through mixed methods, whilst taking into account the importance of values and evaluation standards underpinning evaluative practice. The link of evaluative practice to influencing societal change was also clearly expressed.

More information and videos

More information: Here you can find background on the program, cases, methods and more markets etc, but also the videos that were taken of all the plenary sessions.

The conference was organized by the Wageningen UR Centre for Development Innovation (Cecile Kusters), Learning by Design (Irene Guijt) and Context international cooperation (Jan Brouwers) and got sponsored by Cordaid, Hivos, ICCO, IDRC, IKM, LNV/Wageningen UR, Oxfam-Novib, Plan Netherlands, and Stichting het Groene Woudt.