Anthropology and impact evaluation: a critical commentary

Harrison, Elizabeth (2015) Anthropology and impact evaluation: a critical commentary. Journal of Development Effectiveness, 7 (2). pp. 146-159. ISSN 1943-9342

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Quantitative and quasi-experimental methods have become popular in the evaluation of development impact. In response, several commentators have argued for more effective use of ‘mixed methods’. This paper engages with, and builds upon, this current criticism of more quantitatively based impact evaluation from the disciplinary perspective of anthropology. Focusing on one specific evaluation, of an irrigation project in Malawi, it asks what was missed and what was misunderstood in the quantitative focus that was adopted. The paper then reflects on the wider question that is raised of how
particular methods and perspectives can take centre stage and produce apparent ‘truths’ even in the face of evidence pointing in opposite directions. The overall argument is
that this is a matter of the politics of knowledge production and of how particular disciplinary perspectives may come to dominate.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: impact evaluation; anthropology; irrigation; Malawi
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > Anthropology
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
Depositing User: Jayne Paulin
Date Deposited: 09 Apr 2015 13:54
Last Modified: 02 Jul 2019 18:39

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Project NameSussex Project NumberFunderFunder Ref
Innovations to Promote Growth among Small-scale Irrigators in Africa: An Ethnographic and Knowledge-Exchange ApproachG0983ESRC-ECONOMIC & SOCIAL RESEARCH COUNCILES/J009415/1