An analysis of influence of evaluation in the context of socio-economic development plan (SEDP) implementation in Vietnam - The case of Hai lang district, Quang tri province

Date: 16 February 2015

Venue: Universiteit Antwerpen, Stadscampus, Promotiezaal Grauwzusters - Grauwzusters, Lange Sint-Annastraat 7 - 2000 Antwerpen

Time: 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM

Organization / co-organization: IOB

PhD candidate: Mr. Ha Minh Tri

Principal investigator: Prof. dr. Nathalie Holvoet and Prof. dr. Ho Duc Hung

Short description: Public Doctoral Defence by Ha Minh Tri (IOB - Institute of Development Policty and Mangement)

Abstract: Vietnam has established an evidence-based monitoring and evaluation (M&E) system and used M&E information for its socio-economic development plan (SEDP) implementation. The purpose of this mixed methods study is to understand what factors and how the factors identified affect evaluation influence in the public sector context of Hai Lang district.
The first chapter reviews literature related to evaluation use and influence to establish a theoretical framework for the research topic. The study context and the M&E arrangements of the Comprehensive Poverty Reduction and Growth Strategy and SEDP are described in the second chapter while the third chapter introduces the research design and methodology used to identify and analyse factors which may affect evaluation influence at individual level.
Research findings are presented and discussed in the fourth chapter. Findings from our own survey with 275 staff members and managers of Hai Lang district highlight that three out of the five factors that were identified on the basis of the theoretical framework have a statistically significant effect on evaluation influence: (1) evaluation capacity, (2) evaluation plans and methods, and (3) generation of evaluation reports for partnership; regardless of the respondents' gender, age, years of education, level of responsibility, level of administration and whether they have been exposed to a Finnish-funded capacity building programme for a shorter or longer period. The qualitative phase of the research unequivocally confirms these findings as regards the first two factors. More specifically, the 55 interviewees selected for more in-depth interviews highlight that evaluation capacity feeds into credible evaluation and objective and impartial attitudes of evaluators which is perceived to be essential for evaluation influence. Evaluation plans and methods are considered important in guiding the evaluation process, deciding on types of information, and identifying strategies to obtain the needed information. With respect to the third factor, a difference is identified between the views of the ordinary staff and the managers. While the first group underscores the earlier identified positive influence of evaluation reporting for partnership, the managers are more critical in this regard. They perceive no effect of generation of evaluation report for partnership on evaluation influence because according to them reports often contain unjustified conclusions, recommendations and report wording, while they also consider that reports are often biased due to prejudiced attitudes of evaluators towards conducting evaluation.
The concluding chapter identifies the theoretical contribution of the study, including (1) the elaboration of the conceptual framework that is found valid in explaining evaluation influence, (2) the identification of construct measures capturing evaluation influence in the public sector of a Vietnamese district, and (3) new confirmation that the three significant factors affect evaluation influence.
The policy implications suggest to (1) maximize the three significant factors recruiting programme staff as motivators, (2) involve non-governmental actors in M&E processes of SEDP implementation and (3) strengthen evaluation capacity for the agencies involved in climate change mitigation M&E, one of the critical issues which is currently on Vietnam's policy agenda.
Finally, some suggestions for future research are identified including (1) research in districts with other characteristics than Hai Lang to check generalizability of findings, (2) further research at interpersonal and collective levels to achieve how evaluation influence operates at different levels, (3) research at different moment of the evaluation cycle to analyse possible differences throughout the cycle.

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