Dealing with complexity through planning, monitoring & evaluation (PME)

This paper from Personnel Cooperation in Developing Countries (PSO) and HIVA is the mid term review of an ongoing collaborative action research project in which ten development organisations explored planning, monitoring and evaluation approaches. 

The paper outlines four reasons why it may be of interest:

  1. "The paper illustrates a practical example of action research whereby the organisations themselves are becoming the researchers.
  2. Unpacking the main characteristics of complexity, the paper uses an analytic framework of four questions to assess the effectiveness of a PME approach in dealing with complex social change.
  3. An overview is given of how various organisations implemented different PME approaches (e.g. outcome mapping, most significant change, client satisfaction instruments) in order to deal with complex change.
  4. The paper outlines the meaning and the importance of a balanced PME approach, including its agenda, its underlying principles and values, its methods and tools and the way it is implemented in a particular context." (Van Ongevalle et al. 2012)


  • 1. Introduction
  • 2. Strengthening PME practice through collaborative action research
  • 3. Dealing with complexity through a variety of PME approaches
  • 3.1. The challenge of dealing with multiple actors and relationships
  • 3.2. The challenge of learning about development results
  • 3.3. The challenge of satisfying accountability needs
  • 3.4. The challenge of strengthening the adaptive capacity of programme stakeholders
  • 4. Towards a balanced PME approach
  • 5. So have we learnt anything yet about dealing with complexity through PME?
  • 6. The way forward in the action research 


Van Ongevalle, J., Maarse, A., Temmink, C., Boutylkova, E., & Huyse, H. Personnel Cooperation in Developing Countries (PSO) and HIVA, (2012). Dealing with complexity through planning, monitoring & evaluation (pme) (Praxis Paper 26). Retrieved from website:

Originally sourced from Monitoring and Evaluation NEWS