Evaluating a complex research capacity-building intervention: reflections on an evaluation of the African Institutions Initiative

Marjanovic, Sonja, Cochrane, Gavin, Robin, Enora, Sewankambo, Nelson, Ezeh, Alex, Nyirenda, Moffat, Bonfoh, Bassirou, Rweyemamu, Mark and Chataway, Joanna (2017) Evaluating a complex research capacity-building intervention: reflections on an evaluation of the African Institutions Initiative. Evaluation, 23 (1). pp. 80-101. ISSN 1356-3890

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Abstract

Increasing policy demand for realist evaluations of research and capacity-building programmes reflects a recognition of the management, governance and impact gains that can result from evaluation. However, the evidence base on how to successfully implement realist evaluations of complex interventions in international development efforts is scarce. We know little about the associated merits, limitations and ways to mitigate challenges. There is a need for reflective work which considers the methodology in context. This paper shares learning from the experience of conducting a realist, theory-of-change driven evaluation of the African Institutions Initiative, a Wellcome Trust funded programme which aimed to build sustainable health research capacity in Africa at institutional and network levels, across seven research consortia. We reflect on the key challenges experienced throughout the evaluation and recommend ways of managing them, highlight opportunities and critical success factors associated with this evaluation approach, as well as elaborate on alternative evaluation approaches.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Evaluation, Complexity, International development, Capacity-building
Schools and Departments: School of Business, Management and Economics > SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit
Depositing User: Stacey Goldup
Date Deposited: 14 Nov 2016 11:22
Last Modified: 12 Sep 2017 09:24
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/65398

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