Defra (the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) commissioned CECAN (the Centre for Evaluation Complexity Across the Nexus) to deliver a Complexity Evaluation Framework (CEF). The primary purpose of this framework is to equip Defra commissioners of evaluation (which may include analysts and policy makers), with a checklist of core considerations to ensure that evaluations are robust and sufficiently consider the implications of complexity theory. The framework is intended to increase the use and usability of evaluation for both commissioned and internally-led evaluation across the department. The final output is intended to be an actionable complexity evaluation framework, accompanied by a supporting evidence report to be used as a resource in commissioning evaluation.
This resource and the following information was contributed by Simon Shrimpton.
Authors and their affiliation
Commissioned by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra)
Delivered by CECAN Ltd with Risk Solutions and the Tavistock Institute of Human
This is a framework of key considerations to inform conversations between policy leads, commissioners of evaluation, and evaluation contractors. It aims to ensure that complexity thinking is embedded into evaluation design and to equip its users with a checklist of core considerations to make sure that evaluations are robust and sufficiently consider the implications of complexity.
How have you used or intend to use this resource?
It is intended to be used as a resource in scoping, commissioning, managing and delivering evaluations in, and for, Defra, to be picked up at any stage before, during or after commissioning evaluation. Ideally the CEF is intended to be used multiple times over the policy cycle, starting as early in the policy cycle as possible.
The framework is intended to be used in conjunction with other relevant guidance, links to which can be found in the document.
While the primary audience is Defra analysts and policy-makers or commissioned researchers and evaluators, this framework will be useful more broadly for evaluators in environmental and non-environmental spheres, who are considering the practicalities of evaluating policies and interventions subject to complexity.
Why would you recommend it to other people?
While the CEF has been built using knowledge primarily from the environmental sector, it will contain useful prompts and reminders for evaluation across all complex systems.
CECAN (2019). Complexity Evaluation Framework. Commissioned by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). Retrieved from: http://sciencesearch.defra.gov.uk/Default.aspx?Menu=Menu&Module=More&Loc...