Using evaluation for adaptive management

Adaptive management, adaptive programming

This page on using evaluation for adaptive management is currently in progress. We are working with BetterEvaluation's Community to curate and co-create knowledge about this, which will be documented on the BetterEvaluation site. 

About this page

This page is being used as a staging ground for ideas, experiences, advice and resources about using evaluation to support adaptive management. It includes a number of resources suggested by the BetterEvaluation community as well as outputs from BetterEvaluation. It is a work in progress, so please watch this space.

BetterEvaluation resources and outputs

BetterEvaluation Monitoring and Evaluation for Adaptive Management Working Paper Series

This working paper series explores how monitoring and evaluation can support good adaptive management of programs. While focused especially on international development, this series is relevant to wider areas of public good activity, especially in a time of global pandemic, uncertainty and an increasing need for adaptive management.

Adapting evaluation in the time of COVID-19 - Blog series


Resources suggested by the BetterEvaluation Community

Strategy Testing: An Innovative Approach to Monitoring Highly Flexible Aid Programs: This paper by Debra Ladner describes a new monitoring system developed by The Asia Foundation under the DFAT-TAF
Partnership called Strategy Testing, which was developed to track programs that are addressing complex
development problems through a highly iterative, adaptive ‘searching’ approach. Suggested by both Michael Moses and Nicola Giordano.

The Science in Adaptive Management: This paper by Matt Ripley and Sabine Jaccard ILO, explores adaptive management's history in natural resource management to learn how adaptive management has moved from paper to practice, extracting a set of 6 principles underpinning its real-world application. The authors reflect on these in relation to their experiences running the Lab, an International Labour Organization (ILO) project using a market systems approach to improve working conditions in developing economies, to see how adaptive management can be used for greater impact.  

GPSA Note 5: Adaptive Learning: This note is the fifth in the Global Partnership for Social Accountability (GPSA)'s six-part series 'Are We Ready for Strategic Social Accountability?' and is a diagnostic of field readiness for adaptive management. This note takes stock of the way a sample of 40 entries from the first two rounds of GPSA applications use learning, monitoring and evaluation to provide immediate feedback to improve the effectiveness of their social accountability interventions. This resource was suggested by Florencia Guerzovich.

Outcome Evidencing: A Method for Enabling and Evaluating Program Intervention in Complex Systems: This article was suggested by Boru Douthwaite. It describes the development and use of a rapid evaluation approach to meet program accountability and learning requirements in a research for development program operating in five developing countries.

The Donor Committee for Enterprise Development (DCED) Standard for Results Measurement: This framework helps programmes develop and manage results measurement systems for private sector development programmes. Suggested by Donna Loveridge, the DCED Standard promotes evaluative thinking and the use of evaluative data during implementation.

Outcome Harvesting: Outcome Harvesting can be a useful approach for adaptive management. Outcome Harvesting is particularly useful when outcomes, and even, inputs, activities and outputs, are not sufficiently specific or measurable at the time of planning an intervention. It is well-suited for evaluation in dynamic, uncertain (i.e., complex) situations.

Enhancing Evaluation Use: Insights from Internal Evaluation Units: This book touches on relevant topics to adaptive management from different national, supranational and international organisations' internal evaluation units. The focus of the book is on expressing the challenges, solutions and lessons in fostering organisational evaluative thinking and learning cultures.

Putting learning at the centre: adaptive development programming in practice: This ODI paper begins by clarifying why and what kind of learning matters for adaptive programming. The paper then turns its focus to how strategies and approaches applied throughout a programme’s conception, design, management and M&E can enable it to continually learn and adapt.

Thank you to our contributors

  • Gavin Stedman-Bryce
  • Boru Douthwaite
  • John Dalton
  • Michael Moses
  • Donna Loveridge
  • Ricardo Wilson-Grau
  • Florencia Guerzovich
  • Kowsar Gowhari
  • Marlene Laeubli Loud
  • Nicola Giordano
  • Brandi Olson
  • Sonia Chen
  • Riccardo Polastro
  • Ricky Kuswardono
  • Ian Goldman
  • J. Nelson-Weaver

Page version

Version 2 - Updated September 28, 2020

Updated: 2nd November 2020 - 5:35pm
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