The role and influence of civil society organisations that are involved in the monitoring and evaluation of government programmes and policies

Date: 20 November 2014

Venue: UAntwerp - Stadscampus - Building S - Promotion hall (basement floor) - Lange Sint-Annastraat 7 - 2000 Antwerpen

Time: 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM

Organization / co-organization: IOB

PhD candidate: Marie Gildemyn

Principal investigator: Prof. dr. Nathalie Holvoet

Short description: PhD defense Marie Gildemyn - IOB

Abstract: Following the changes in the aid architecture, more than a decade ago, CSOs have been increasingly involved in the monitoring and evaluation (M&E) of government programmes and policies, either through their participation within the national M&E system or independently, usually under the heading of 'social accountability initiatives'. Using a case-study approach, including qualitative comparative analysis (QCA), the PhD sets out to understand the role and influence of CSO-led M&E in Ghana, both within and outside the national M&E system, by focusing on its two main objectives, which are accountability and feedback/learning.
Studying CSO-led M&E through the accountability lens reveals that CSOs can already create soft pressure on government officials to become more answerable by simply carrying out M&E activities. In addition, CSOs create informal accountability forums in which their M&E findings are discussed and compared to the available 'official' information, which further strengthens the answerability dimension. On the other hand CSO-led M&E, and CSOs in general, are less successful at imposing or triggering sanctions if public officials fail to provide satisfying answers or in case of poor performance (enforceability dimension).
Looking at CSO-led M&E through the feedback function/evaluation influence lens sheds light on the underlying processes that occur during data gathering and the discussion of the M&E results within the available dialogue spaces, whether created informally or as part of the formal M&E system. The research also contributes by mapping the different influence mechanisms that occurred following CSO-led M&E at the district level, more specifically through the in-depth examination of the work of SEND-Ghana (a Ghanaian CSO). Moreover, the research identified two additional influence mechanisms 'pledges for action' (motivational category) and 'one-time action' (behavioural category). The other important finding is that the interface meeting can play an important role as a catalyst of certain influence mechanisms. The uncovered influence mechanisms, including the link between the motivational and behavioural mechanisms, were further examined using QCA. The analysis confirmed the previous findings in a greater number of districts and uncovered different pathways or combination of conditions that are able to explain behavioural change at the district level.
One of the major strengths of this PhD research is its contribution to the small number of empirical applications on evaluation influence, especially within a developing context. The PhD further argues that CSO-led M&E should not only be examined from the (narrow) perspective of accountability, but also focus on the other, broader range of processes CSO-led M&E can trigger at the local and national level.

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