How to Evaluate equity-focused and gender-responsive interventions in complex and dynamic environments

These reading materials from a webinar presented by Michael Quinn Patton for My M&E, discusses the concept of complexity and details how to conduct an evaluation in a complex and dynamic environment.


"Evaluation for equity and the fostering of human rights, as part of achieving meaningful development results, often occurs in complex adaptive systems. A complex system is characterized by a large number of interacting and interdependent elements in which there is no central control. Complex environments for social interventions and innovations are those in which what needs to be done to solve problems is uncertain, where key stakeholders are in conflict about how to proceed. What has worked in one place may not work in another. Context matters. Variations in culture, politics, resources, capacity, and history will affect how development initiatives unfold and how attention to equity and human rights is incorporated into those initiatives. In such situations, informed by systems thinking and a sensitivity to complex nonlinear dynamics, developmental evaluation supports increased effectiveness of interventions, social innovation, adaptive management, and ongoing learning." (Patton 2012)


  • Developmental evaluation and Complexity theory
  • Complex adaptive systems
  • Dealing with the unexpected
  • Developmental Evaluation and learning
  • Developmental Evaluation in the context of Development Evaluation
  • Examples of developmental evaluation in development contexts
  • Examples of developmental evaluation in Equity-focused evaluations
  • Dynamic versus static impact evaluation designs
  • Developmental Evaluation and accountability
  • Developmental Evaluation as Utilization-Focused
  • Situation recognition and Developmental Evaluation

Please Note: To download this paper you must sign up to the Equity-Focused and Gender-Responsive Evaluations online learning course through EvalPartners. The course is free, and you don't need to have evaluation experience to sign up. 



Patton, M. Q. EvalPartners, (2020). How to evaluate equity-focused and gender-responsive interventions in complex dynamic environments. Retrieved from website: