We design tailored research strategies that complement monitoring and evaluation (M&E) activities, with clearly articulated questions, methods, tools and resources required to successfully enhance the knowledge base of aid investments. We work with private and public donors and their counterparts to build research and knowledge production capacity, frequently working in partnership to enhance ownership and shared technical skills.
While measuring achievements against outcomes is crucial, an understanding of the factors behind observed changes is equally essential to improve development performance. Case studies provide opportunities to assess causal mechanisms and constraints that are driving outcomes in a detailed manner (e.g. the design of activities, the quality of implementation or contextual factors) and highlight in greater depth how and why investments are creating impacts. They are particularly relevant for determining impact in a complex environment such as national systems and institutions, where investments are operating as one of many factors and/or when quantitative measurement of achievements are difficult or less relevant.
Thematic studies investigate particular issues of relevance to development performance which cut across a set of initiative or sector investments, including coordination and co-location of initiatives, relationships and engagement with other stakeholders and issues as gender or private sector engagement. In contrast to case studies, they are not necessarily focused on investigating achievements of particular investments. They can be useful to highlight achievements across development objectives or around issues of strategic importance.
These are short stories delivered in an accessible and useful format for a wide range of audiences, including time-poor decision-makers. Their purpose is to illustrate how achievements by individual investment reflect broader objectives, including impacts on national systems and institutions.