Accepted Paper:

A participatory collaborative approach to evaluating complex projects aiming to build capacity for research production and use: the Think Tank Initiative and Indonesia Knowledge Sector Initiative  


John Young (INASP)

Paper short abstract:

Capacity development interventions need to work at individual, organisational and institutional level to be sustainable. Evaluations need to assess outcomes at all levels, interactions between them, and external factors to assess the contribution of the project. Performance stories can do this.

Paper long abstract:

Current concepts and frameworks for capacity development all recognize that effective capacity development requires much more than simply providing training to individuals. OECD DAC defined capacity development as "the process whereby people, organisations and society as a whole unleash, strengthen, create, adapt and maintain capacity over time". This implies the need to work at individual, organizational and institutional level to achieve sustainable capacity development. This is elaborated explicitly in UNDPs Primer on Capacity Development (2009) which extends to far more than simply the ability of an individual or organization to do what they do. The European Centre for Development Policy Management in their Capacity, Change and Performance Study Report (2008) identified 5 wide-ranging capabilities of which only one focused on this: capability to carry out technical, service delivery and logistical tasks. The other four were capability: to commit and engage, to adapt and self-renew, to balance diversity and coherence, to relate and interact. There are a similarly huge range of approaches and activities which can contribute to capacity development. Evaluating capacity development initiatives need to assess outcomes along multiple dimensions at many level, the interactions between them, and the external factors which might also have influenced the outcomes to be able to assess causality and contribution. This paper will present a participatory collaborative approach used in evaluations of the global Think Tank Initiative and the Indonesia Knowledge Sector Initiative, and how these principles are applied in INASP's emerging approach to learning and capacity development for research organisations in developing countries.

Panel D3
How do we know it works? Exploring methods for evaluating the impact of capacity strengthening in international development