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Toward a plurality of methods in project evaluation: a contextualised approach to understanding impact trajectories and efficacy


  • Michael Woolcock


Understanding the efficacy of development projects requires not only a plausible counterfactual but also an appropriate match between the shape of impact trajectory over time and the deployment of a corresponding array of research tools capable of empirically discerning such a trajectory. At present, however, the development community knows very little, other than by implicit assumption, about the expected shape of the impact trajectory from any given sector or project type, and as such is prone to routinely making attribution errors. Randomisation per se does not solve this problem. The sources and manifestations of these problems are considered, along with some constructive suggestions for responding to them.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael Woolcock, 2009. "Toward a plurality of methods in project evaluation: a contextualised approach to understanding impact trajectories and efficacy," Journal of Development Effectiveness, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 1(1), pages 1-14.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:jdevef:v:1:y:2009:i:1:p:1-14 DOI: 10.1080/19439340902727719

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    Cited by:

    1. repec:eee:wdevel:v:99:y:2017:i:c:p:173-185 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Michael A. Clemens & Gabriel Demombynes, 2011. "When does rigorous impact evaluation make a difference? The case of the Millennium Villages," Journal of Development Effectiveness, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 3(3), pages 305-339, September.
    3. McKenzie, David, 2012. "Beyond baseline and follow-up: The case for more T in experiments," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 99(2), pages 210-221.
    4. Tannahill, Carol & Sridharan, Sanjeev, 2013. "Getting real about policy and practice needs: Evaluation as a bridge between the problem and solution space," Evaluation and Program Planning, Elsevier, vol. 36(1), pages 157-164.
    5. Arndt, Channing & Jones, Sam & Tarp, Finn, 2015. "Assessing Foreign Aid’s Long-Run Contribution to Growth and Development," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 69(C), pages 6-18.
    6. Sridharan, Sanjeev & Nakaima, April, 2011. "Ten steps to making evaluation matter," Evaluation and Program Planning, Elsevier, vol. 34(2), pages 135-146, May.
    7. repec:eee:wdevel:v:99:y:2017:i:c:p:481-497 is not listed on IDEAS


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