Evaluators need to ask themselves tougher questions about what difference their recommendations will make and the value they’ll add.
When I first wrote about Value-for-Money in the Evaluation Business, a number of people commented about the importance of addressing the question of “value for whom” and whether evaluation was generating value for a diverse set of stakeholders.
As I’ve written in the past, knowing your stakeholders is important to me as an evaluator. To be effective we need to understand who our stakeholders are, what is at stake for them, and what they want to get out of the evaluation. So, what is the value we are creating for stakeholders, and can we please them all?
Yes and no.
We have a range of stakeholders that look to us for independent evaluation and evidence about what works and what needs fixing.
Within the World Bank Group our main stakeholder groups are:
Answering the right questions
The comments on the first value for money blog raised other concerns, namely whether we were answering the right questions or had come too late in the process to make a difference. These are valid concerns, and they arise in all evaluation functions, not just in IEG.
Some of these issues come from different expectations of what evaluation can do. For instance, we often get asked why we cannot provide hands-on support to improving quality. The simple answer is it would interfere with management’s responsibilities and undermine our independence.
In other cases when it comes to asking the right questions, we share the approach papers for our major evaluations and concept notes for our major learning products with stakeholders and ask for feedback. At the end of the evaluation process, we have a similar interaction to ensure we get the facts right and that the recommendations make sense.
Clients and users
The users of our evaluations also go beyond the World Bank Group, even though we do not have direct client relationships and rely on Bank Group operational staff to follow-through on lessons and recommendations.
These stakeholders include civil society organizations and other bilateral and multilateral organizations that rely on us as an arms-length institution that is close enough to see what is going on, while removed enough to have an independent evidence-based view.
Does this mean we serve every stakeholder and answer every question? Certainly not!
Reflecting on the value-for-money question there are three ways in which we as evaluators can push ourselves further: