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Rapporteur presenting findings from a workshop
Man from the audience asking a question
M. Zintl giving her welcome speech
Plenary Session

Systemic Approaches in Evaluation

Documentation of the Conference on 25-26 January 2011

Development programs promote complex reforms and change processes. Such processes are often characterized by insecurity and unpredictability, posing a big challenge to the evaluation of development projects. In order to understand which projects work, why and under which conditions, evaluations also need to embrace the interaction of various influencing factors and the multi-dimensionality of societal change. However, present evaluation approaches often premise predictability and linearity of event chains.

In order to fill this gap, systemic approaches in evaluation of development programs are increasingly being discussed. A key concept is interdependency instead of linear cause-effect-relations. Systemic approaches in evaluation focus on interrelations and the interaction between various stakeholders with different motivations, interests, perceptions and perspectives.

On January 25 and 26, 2011 the Evaluation and Audit Division of the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the Evaluation Unit of GIZ offered a forum to discuss systemic approaches to evaluation at an international conference.
More than 200 participants from academia, consulting firms and NGOs discussed, amongst others, the following questions:

  • What are systemic approaches in evaluation?
  • For which kind of evaluations are systemic approaches (not) useful? Can they be used to enhance accountability, for example?
  • Are rigorous impact studies and systemic evaluations antipodes or can we combine elements of both approaches?
  • Which concrete methods and tools can be used in systemic evaluation?

On this website you will find the documentation of all sessions, speeches and discussion rounds. The main conclusions of the conference were summarized in the  final panel discussion.