Friday, 15 January 2016

Tool Review

Review of Monitoring and Evaluation of Policy Influence and Advocacy
Authors: Josephine Tsui, Simon Hearn, and John Young

ODI Working Paper 395 
This working paper commissioned by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is a useful resource for organisations trying to influence public policy and for agencies which fund them.  Policy influence is a complex and ambiguous area, making M&E difficult. Yet monitoring and evaluating the impact of such advocacy interventions is essential from the perspective of learning as well as to establish accountability.
This thoughtful, exhaustive, and well-researched and referenced paper could guide target organisations towards better monitoring and assessment of their advocacy interventions.   It provides a comprehensive view of important issues in M&E of advocacy interventions, and of existing methods and approaches (referred to as frameworks) as well as conceptual frameworks to understand and improve the M & E process. It is well organised, with five chapters apart from the Introduction and Appendices.

The introduction is written in an engaging, almost conversational style, as the authors touch upon what M & E is, why it is required, different ways to describe the outcomes of an advocacy intervention, the importance of analysing causality and of synthesising the results of different kinds of analysis to assess overall success.  Do not skip this section.  It provides a clear perspective on a rather heavy subject, which is useful in understanding some of the more complicated and summarized content later.

Chapter 1 reviews current trends in the field, discussing how effective policy influence interventions can take different forms and have diverse outcomes, making it harder to measure their impact. Hence the need for multiple approaches and methods, presented in Chapters 2 & 3.
Chapter 2 presents frameworks to understand how policy change happens, so that interventions are planned better and enabling evaluation of an intervention at the planning stage itself.   The chapter presents three sets of frameworks to understand how policy change happens, frameworks to guide intervention planning and to gauge the level of influence that interventions have on policy change.
Chapter 3 presents four sets of frameworks for monitoring and evaluating advocacy interventions, representing four dimensions of an advocacy programme.
  • Strategy and direction
  • Management and outputs
  • Outcomes and impact (the authors explain the difference between ‘outputs’ and ‘outcomes’)
  • Understanding causes of the outcomes observed.
In Chapters 2 & 3 discussion on each set of frameworks opens with a handy box briefly explaining what these frameworks are and why and then they are useful.  Each set covers a fairly wide spectrum of methods and approaches.  For instance, the set relating to management and outputs (pages 11 and 12) has tools ranging from behavioral descriptions of  multiple levels of success (Scoring Rubrics), to one  assessing  specific capabilities of the organization (Coalition Capacity Checklist),  to one which tabulates and weights multiple criteria to arrive at effectiveness scores (Multi-criteria Decision Analysis).  While the chapters themselves contain summarized information presented in a tabular format, the appendices contain details of each framework with references, opening with a brief explanation of why and when the framework is useful.

Six case studies in Chapter 4 illustrate the application of one of the frameworks.  Some of the cases are well written and clearly illustrate the method; others (e.g. DFID page 17) are confusing, though clarity is easily obtained on consulting the attributed source.

This paper is a great resource for organisations trying to influence public policy, but it requires the reader to be comfortable with abstraction and concepts.  In organisations where the advocacy team has difficulty dealing with these, leaders could step in or organise workshops around the theme of M&E using the contents of this paper.

Reviewed by: Neeta Krishna
Associate Professor - HR 
Father C Rodrigues Institute of Management Mumbai

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