IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/unu/wpaper/wp2013-096.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Using Case Studies to Explore the External Validity of 'Complex' Development Interventions

Author

Listed:
  • Woolcock, Michael

Abstract

Rising standards for accurately inferring the impact of development projects has not been matched by equivalently rigorous procedures for guiding decisions about whether and how similar results might be expected elsewhere. These `external validity´ concerns are especially pressing for `complex´ development interventions, in which the explicit purpose is often to adapt projects to local contextual realities and where high quality implementation is paramount to success. A basic analytical framework is provided for assessing the external validity of complex development interventions. It argues for deploying case studies to better identify the conditions under which diverse outcomes are observed, focusing in particular on the salience of contextual idiosyncrasies, implementation capabilities and trajectories of change. Upholding the canonical methodological principle that questions should guide methods, not vice versa, is required if a truly rigorous basis for generalizing claims about likely impact across time, groups, contexts and scales of operation is to be discerned for different kinds of development interventions.

Suggested Citation

  • Woolcock, Michael, 2013. "Using Case Studies to Explore the External Validity of 'Complex' Development Interventions," WIDER Working Paper Series 096, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
  • Handle: RePEc:unu:wpaper:wp2013-096
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://www.wider.unu.edu/sites/default/files/WP2013-096.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. repec:pri:rpdevs:deaton_instruments_randomization_learning_all_04april_2010 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Angus Deaton, 2010. "Instruments, Randomization, and Learning about Development," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 48(2), pages 424-455, June.
    3. Alberto Chong & Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer, 2014. "Letter Grading Government Efficiency," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 12(2), pages 277-299, April.
    4. Robert H. Bates & Avner Greif & Margaret Levi & Jean-Laurent Rosenthal, 1998. "Analytic Narratives," Economics Books, Princeton University Press, edition 1, number 6355.
    5. Abhijit V. Banerjee & Shawn Cole & Esther Duflo & Leigh Linden, 2007. "Remedying Education: Evidence from Two Randomized Experiments in India," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(3), pages 1235-1264.
    6. Ravallion, Martin, 2001. "Growth, Inequality and Poverty: Looking Beyond Averages," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 29(11), pages 1803-1815, November.
    7. Jens Ludwig & Jeffrey R. Kling & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2011. "Mechanism Experiments and Policy Evaluations," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 25(3), pages 17-38, Summer.
    8. Ravallion Martin, 2009. "Should the Randomistas Rule?," The Economists' Voice, De Gruyter, vol. 6(2), pages 1-5, February.
    9. Pritchett, Lant & Samji, Salimah & Hammer, Jeffrey S., 2012. "It's All about MeE: Using Structured Experiential Learning ('e') to Crawl the Design Space," WIDER Working Paper Series 104, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    10. Michael Woolcock & Simon Szreter & Vijayendra Rao, 2011. "How and Why Does History Matter for Development Policy?," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 47(1), pages 70-96.
    11. Lant Pritchett & Michael Woolcock & Matt Andrews, 2013. "Looking Like a State: Techniques of Persistent Failure in State Capability for Implementation," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 49(1), pages 1-18, January.
    12. Miriam Bruhn & David McKenzie, 2013. "Using administrative data to evaluate municipal reforms: an evaluation of the impact of Minas Fácil Expresso," Journal of Development Effectiveness, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 5(3), pages 319-338, September.
    13. Ariel Fiszbein & Norbert Schady & Francisco H.G. Ferreira & Margaret Grosh & Niall Keleher & Pedro Olinto & Emmanuel Skoufias, 2009. "Conditional Cash Transfers : Reducing Present and Future Poverty," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 2597, April.
    14. Tessa Bold & Mwangi Kimenyi & Germano Mwabu & Alice Ng'ang'a & Justin Sandefur, 2013. "Scaling-up What Works: Experimental Evidence on External Validity in Kenyan Education," CSAE Working Paper Series 2013-04, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
    15. James Mahoney, 2000. "Strategies of Causal Inference in Small-N Analysis," Sociological Methods & Research, , vol. 28(4), pages 387-424, May.
    16. Katherine Casey & Rachel Glennerster & Edward Miguel, 2012. "Reshaping Institutions: Evidence on Aid Impacts Using a Preanalysis Plan," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 127(4), pages 1755-1812.
    17. Duflo, Esther & Dupas, Pascaline & Kremer, Michael, 2015. "School governance, teacher incentives, and pupil–teacher ratios: Experimental evidence from Kenyan primary schools," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 123(C), pages 92-110.
    18. Joshua Angrist & Ivan Fernandez-Val, 2010. "ExtrapoLATE-ing: External Validity and Overidentification in the LATE Framework," NBER Working Papers 16566, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    19. Hunt Allcott, 2012. "Site Selection Bias in Program Evaluation," NBER Working Papers 18373, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    20. Pritchett, Lant & Woolcock, Michael, 2004. "Solutions When the Solution is the Problem: Arraying the Disarray in Development," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 191-212, February.
    21. repec:pri:rpdevs:hammer_its_all_about_me is not listed on IDEAS
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Woolcock, Michael, 2014. "Engaging with Fragile and Conflict-Affected States," Working Paper Series rwp14-038, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
    2. Woolcock, Michael, 2014. "Engaging with fragile and conflict-affected states: An alternative approach to theory, measurement and practice," WIDER Working Paper Series 097, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    3. Fox, Jonathan A., 2015. "Social Accountability: What Does the Evidence Really Say?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 72(C), pages 346-361.
    4. Lucia Mýtna Kureková, 2015. "Policy Puzzles with Roma Employment in Slovakia," Discussion Papers 34, Central European Labour Studies Institute (CELSI).
    5. Peters, Jörg & Langbein, Jörg & Roberts, Gareth, 2017. "Generalization in the Tropics: Development policy, randomized controlled trials, and external validity," Ruhr Economic Papers 716, RWI - Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-University Bochum, TU Dortmund University, University of Duisburg-Essen.
    6. Sheely, Ryan, 2015. "Mobilization, Participatory Planning Institutions, and Elite Capture: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Rural Kenya," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 67(C), pages 251-266.
    7. Ton, Giel & Klerkx, Laurens & de Grip, Karin & Rau, Marie-Luise, 2015. "Innovation grants to smallholder farmers: Revisiting the key assumptions in the impact pathways," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 9-23.
    8. Onur Altindag & Theodore J. Joyce & Julie A. Reeder, 2015. "Effects of Peer Counseling to Support Breastfeeding: Assessing the External Validity of a Randomized Field Experiment," NBER Working Papers 21013, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Mendoza Alcantara, Alejandra & Woolcock, Michael, 2014. "Integrating qualitative methods into investment climate impact evaluations," Policy Research Working Paper Series 7145, The World Bank.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Economic development; Methodology (Economics);

    JEL classification:

    • B40 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Economic Methodology - - - General
    • O10 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:unu:wpaper:wp2013-096. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Mauricio Roa Grisales). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/widerfi.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.