Exploding the myth of incompatibility between accountability and learning

This chapter from Capacity Development in Practice (archived link) examines the conflict in the field of Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) between the need for ‘accountability’ and the desire to ensure ‘learning’.

"The tug-of-war between learning and accountability is nonsensical. They need each other. Understanding effectiveness requires both." (Guijt 2010)


  • Exploding the Myth of Incompatibility between Accountability and Learning
  • Understanding the tug-of-war
  • Practical limitations
  • Capacity constraints
  • Economic and political trends
  • Context constraints (and incentives)
  • Organizational culture
  • Philosophical simplicity
  • Ideas that trap and ideas that liberate
  • Trap 1: Defining learning and accountability to see convergence
  • Idea 1: Clarifying learning purposes – including accountability
  • Trap 2: Predicting and controlling an idealized world
  • Idea 2: Adapting expectations of accountability and learning to contextual characteristics
  • Converging capacities
  • Arm-in-arm: Principles, practices and basic good ideas to resolve the tension


Guijt, I. (2010). Accountability and Learning. In Capacity Development in Practice. (pp. 277-291). London, UK: EarthScan. Retrieved from https://web.archive.org/web/20180712201900/http://snv-website-2015.live.dpdk.com/public/cms/sites/default/files/explore/download/capacity_development_in_practice.pdf (archived link)

'Exploding the myth of incompatibility between accountability and learning' is referenced in: