Impact Evaluation: Holding different perspectives up to the light

Published on
March 24, 2010

The Wageningen UR Centre for Development Innovation organised a seminar to discuss different perspectives on Impact Evaluation. The seminar was part of the three-week international course 'Participatory Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation - Managing for Impact', held in March.

Invited speakers presented their experiences of different approaches to impact evaluation, and illustrated these with examples from Dutch development projects and practice. The discussion highlighted how difficult it can be to pinpoint causality in complex situations of change, often the reality of many development programmes.

While it is important to be able to measure certain outcomes (for example in relation to objectives formulated at the start) if accountability is the main focus, the process of change itself is often just as important, and much can be learned from this. Then the focus would be more on perceptions or sense-making of a particular situation or experience.

The participants discussed the extent to which more participatory and learning oriented approaches can influence not only evaluative practice itself, but also how the results can be used for improving development initiatives.

More in-depth discussion of perspectives on evaluation, particularly in relation to assessing and influencing societal change, will take place during the upcoming international conference Evaluation Revisited. CDI is co-hosting this event, which will take place on 20-21 May in Utrecht, the Netherlands.