Evaluations with impact: Decision-focused impact evaluation as a policy-making tool

2020-01-27 connect evidence-informed decision-making impact evaluations learns publication

In this paper, impact evaluation firm IDinsight argues that, in order to more effectively inform development action, impact evaluations must be adapted to serve as context-specific tools for decision-making that feed into local solution-finding systems. Towards this end, a new kind of impact evaluation has recently emerged, one that prioritises the implementer’s specific decision-making needs over potential contributions to a global body of knowledge. These ‘decision-focused evaluations’ are driven by implementer demand, tailored to implementer needs and constraints and embedded within implementer structures. By reframing the primary evaluation objective, they allow implementers to generate and use rigorous evidence more quickly, more affordably and more effectively than ever before. 

The authors, Neil Buddy Shah, Paul Wang, Andrew Fraker and Daniel Gastfriend, suggest strategies for involving all stakeholders, increasing demand for and supply of decision-focused evaluations, effectually using knowledge- and decision-focused evaluation methods and incorporating other systems and considerations to maximise the social impact of impact evaluations.