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evidence-based policy

Buffet of Champions: What Kind Do We Need for Impact Evaluations and Policy?

Heather Lanthorn's picture
I realize that the thesis of “we may need a new kind of champion” sounds like a rather anemic pitch for Guardians of the Galaxy. Moreover, it may lead to inflated hopes that I am going to propose that dance-offs be used more often to decide policy questions. While I don’t necessarily deny that this is a fantastic idea (and would certainly boost c-span viewership), I want to quickly dash hopes that this is the main premise of this post. Rather, I am curious why “we” believe that policy champions will be keen on promoting and using impact evaluation (and subsequent evidence syntheses of these) and to suggest that another range of actors, which I call “evidence” and “issue” champions may be more natural allies. There has been a recurring storyline in recent literature and musings on (impact) evaluation and policy- or decision-making:
  • First, the aspiration: the general desire of researchers (and others) to see more evidence used in decision-making (let’s say both judgment and learning) related to aid and development so that scarce resources are allocated more wisely and/or so that more resources are brought to bear on the problem.
  • Second, the dashed hopes: the realization that data and evidence currently play a limited role in decision-making (see, for example, the report, “What is the evidence on evidence-informed policy-making”, as well as here).
  • Third, the new hope: the recognition that “policy champions” (also “policy entrepreneurs” and “policy opportunists”) may be a bridge between the two.
  • Fourth, the new plan of attack: bring “policy champions” and other stakeholders in to the research process much earlier in order to get up-take of evaluation results into the debates and decisions. This even includes bringing policy champions (say, bureaucrats) on as research PIs.

There seems to be a sleight of hand at work in the above formulation, and it is somewhat worrying in terms of equipoise and the possible use of the range of results that can emerge from an impact evaluation study. Said another way, it seems potentially at odds with the idea that the answer to an evaluation is unknown at the start of the evaluation.

Introducing the Africa Gender Innovation Lab

Markus Goldstein's picture

Today I wanted to take the opportunity to talk about a new initiative that the Africa Region and the Research Group at the World Bank are launching today.   The idea here is that we don't know enough about how to effectively address the underlying causes of gender inequality. Let me start by explaining what I mean by underlying causes.    Take the case of female farmers.    There is a lot of literature out there which shows that women have lower agricultural yields than men.   And some of it shows that this is because women have lo

Evaluating The Best Ways to Give to the Poor: Guest post by Bruce Wydick

What are the best things ordinary people living in rich countries can do to help poor people living in developing countries? This is the question the editors of Christianity Today assigned to me for a special issue this month on world poverty. It is a question many people like my parents worry about, people who would like to give money to causes that help poor people overseas, but to put it simply