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Narrative assessment: a useful if unsettling approach to learning and evaluation for advocacy in complex environments 
Peter Tamas (Wageningen University)
Margit van Wessel (Wageningen University)
Wenny Ho (Hivos)
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Global methodologies
Wednesday 30 June, 10:00-11:45 (UTC+1)

Short Abstract:

Monitoring, evaluating and learning for advocacy is notoriously difficult using conventional approaches. We will introduce and critically discuss narrative assessment, an approach that is both useful and unsettling, which integrates theory of change and storytelling.

Long Abstract

Monitoring, evaluating and learning are notoriously difficult in advocacy. Causal relations between actions and results are hard to establish. Influencing often takes place behind closed doors and it can be risky to talk openly about it. Those targeted by advocacy often may not be ready or available to discuss being influenced or not by specific actors, actions or events. Intervention effects can be expected to be one among numerous other causal strands, making it hard to determine or claim their contribution. In addition, the targets of advocacy —policy makers, publics, private sector actors— are moving targets, continually subject to various influences. Moreover, as change rocesses often play out simultaneously at different levels, and involve multiple actors, actions and events, it may be difficult to identify evidence and interpret the contribution of outcomes to desired changes.

We will discuss narrative assessment, an approach to monitoring and evaluation that integrates theory of change and storytelling. It revolves around the construction and examination of stories through ongoing interaction between advocates and monitoring and evaluation specialists. These stories capture the navigation and sense making of advocates on their own evolving terms.

We invite contributions, for example, on its fit with program management, integration with approaches like outcome harvesting, methods from the social sciences that strengthening data collection and analysis, standards of evidence, and methods from the humanities that yield valid accounts which shield sources and programs.

For more information see DOI: 10.1177/1356389018796021 or

Panel format(s) will be determined after consultation with contributors