Adding Value to Evaluations: Applying the Governmental Learning Spiral for Evaluation-Based Learning

This guide from the Independent Evaluation Group (IEG) of the World Bank outlines the use of Governmental Learning Spiral as a concept for organizing evaluation-based learning. It uses four evaluation-based learning processes that have applied the concept as case studies to demonstrate its use. 


'This paper summarizes four evaluation-based learning processes that have applied the concept. One focused on combining several evaluation studies to a thematic learning approach on public sector reform. It took place in East Africa in 2008. Another one combined a two-step process to bring together different Bank country teams and stakeholders and evaluate World Bank engagement at the state level in Washington, DC, and West Africa in 2009. A third learning process brought together World Bank clients with other multilateral lending institutions and stakeholders from the private and public sector around agricultural productivity in Southern Africa in 2010 and a fourth learning process built networks around gender equality using video-conferencing and an in-person workshop in Southern Africa in 2012.

The analysis concludes with several lessons from this five-year experience. First, triangulation of content and stakeholders as an organizing principle requires a lot more conceptual preparation than traditional workshops because the issue or governance challenge has to drive the selection of the participants and the design of the learning process. Second, facilitating evaluation-based governmental learning requires close cooperation with partners throughout the process. Its successes have rested on the support of donors and the cooperation of IEG’s counterparts in the World Bank Group in its headquarters in Washington, DC, and all over the world in the country offices. And third, evaluation-based learning is as much about content as it is about communicating a culture of accountability and learning. Communicating independent evaluation as a norm in the organization can increase its legitimacy in the eyes of its stakeholders and shift the focus from a narrow view to a forward-looking learning organization. Evaluation-based learning has the potential to trigger single-, double-, and triple-loop learning.'


  • Introduction   1
  • Learning Theories for the Governmental Level   2
  • The Concept of the Governmental Learning Spiral   4
  • Four Case Studies   7
  • Lessons   13
  • Outlook   16


Bidjan Nashat, Sandra Speer, and Raoul Blindenbacher (2013), Adding Value to Evaluations: Applying the Governmental Learning Spiral for Evaluation-Based Learning, Independent Evaluation Group (IEG) . Retrieved from: