Defining and refining effectiveness: Applying narrative and dialogue methods in aid monitoring and evaluation

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Measuring Effectiveness in Humanitarian and Development Aid: Conceptual Frameworks, Principles and Practice, 2008, pp. 51 - 68
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In this chapter we argue that definitions of 'effectiveness' should be negotiated and that this can be assisted through the careful selection of monitoring and evaluation methods. A flexible view of 'effectiveness' is necessary because the world is complex and ever-changing, and even more importantly because the concept is contended. Inevitably, different stakeholders in development aid hold different perspectives about what 'effectiveness' means in their context. We propose that the use of certain types of qualitative methods in monitoring and evaluation is an important way to promote dialogue on the different definitions of effectiveness between stakeholders. In support of our argument, we demonstrate how two open-ended inquiry methods were applied in the field to first define and then refine the meaning of effectiveness. We also apply a validation framework to test the quality of these methods and to generate insight into the strengths and weaknesses of their application in the field. A key strength of these methods is found to be their attention to capturing diversity of perspective. In addition, both the narrative and dialogue methods are seen to indeed facilitate the negotiation of meaning of effectiveness between the different project stakeholders. We conclude that a thoughtful and flexible approach to monitoring and evaluation that incorporates such qualitative methods enables effectiveness to be defined and refined, and is conducive to more appropriate, better managed aid.© 2007 by Nova Science Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.
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