Editorial comment: Today’s blog by Craig Russon is a follow-up to one he posted earlier this week.
In a previous blog, I described what I view as fundamental differences between the “Integrative Evaluation Capacity-building Model” described by Labin et. al. in the Sept 2012 issue of AJE and the ECDG framework. In this blog, I thought it might be interesting to do a side-by-side comparison of the research questions that Labin et. al. used their model to identify and those that a system’s approach might identify.
In the AJE article, Labin et. al. used their model to identify the following research questions:
° What are the needs preceding ECB efforts?
° What strategies are being used for ECB and what implementation variables are being reported?
° What evaluation approaches and methods are being used to assess ECB efforts?
° What outcomes of ECB are being reported at the individual and organizational levels?
° How do strategies vary by the presence of pre-existing resources?
° How do the outcomes vary by strategies?
Compare these to the types of questions that a system’s approach might identify:
° Can individuals, organizations and countries be considered subsystems of a larger system? If so, how are they interrelated? Where does one subsystem begin and the other end? Is there overlap? How is the system influenced by the environment in which it is located?
° What are the processes of interconnections among the subsystems? Does evaluation capacity development (ECD) at the individual level roll-up to the organizational level, and from there, to the country level? Or does ECD trickle down from the country level, through the organizational level, to the individual level? If neither, then what?
° What implications do the interconnections among the subsystems have for practice? Should capacity of the three subsystems be developed in sequential order? If so, in what order? Individual, organizational, country? Country, organizational, individual? Some other order? Or should the capacity of the various subsystems be developed at the same time?
° How can the multiple perspectives of the ECD process be mediated? Presumably, each perspective would involve different methods. How can the methods be mixed to created synergies among the various subsystems?
The different foci of the two approaches are well illustrated through the comparison found above. It appears to me the IECbM focuses on mechanistic causality. In contrast, a system’s approach focuses more on boundaries, perspectives and interconnections. This is important because the questions that you ask determine the answers that you get.
ECDG Board Chair