Putting Impact Evaluation in its place: what it does, when it helps, and what risks it carries

Impact Evaluation emerged from a particular historical context and is inextricably linked to a history that includes Management by Results, New Public Management, and Results Based Monitoring and Evaluation. In this context it has contributed important insights but it also has technical limitations.

More widely, it also has non-technical limitations. It is part of a discourse of programme policy and delivery that privileges certain kinds of evidence and concentrates decision-making in certain (usually centralised or northern) hands.

In this seminar, we will discuss why we may need Impact Assessment (for reasons of accountability and the rational allocation of scarce resources on a global scale) but also the associated risks that need to be managed. We will reject simplistic solutions (for example that we use only participatory or bottom up approaches) and invite an open discussion about how best to put Impact Evaluation in its place.