Nobel prize winners Esther Duflo, Michael Kremer, and Abhijit Banerjee share a corner in Cambridge, Massachusetts where, over the years, they’ve innovated applications of the scientific method that allow them to identify effective intervention strategies to address pressing problems in developing countries. I4DI is an active member of this community with both completed and ongoing impact evaluations.
In an impact evaluation I4DI recently completed for the International Finance Corporation’s (IFC’s) Local Investment Friendly Environment (LIFE) Project in Bosnia and Herzegovina, we combined a randomized controlled trial (RCT) that looked at the impact of the LIFE program with a longitudinal contextual analysis of the business climate in the country. With findings from its deliberate mix of experimental and qualitative evaluation methods, we were able to provide the IFC with the full range of evidence it required to support forward-looking decisions. Closing the loop between evaluation evidence and decision-maker needs is our priority, not a publication for its own sake.
In an ongoing impact evaluation under a GAP Inc. and USAID collaboration, I4DI is pushing to link evidence and action as we work with the learning agendas of two quite different organizations that are partnering to achieve development results and smarter business strategies. On a separate track, we’re drawing on examples from Duflo and Kremer’s work in our upcoming project in Cambodia by moving towards integrating smaller, more nimble RCTs aimed at garnering evidence that will determine what works best for raising awareness and changing behavior over a relatively short project time frame. In parallel, other I4DI staff have been engaged in other projects that will help advance progress along the path these new Nobel laureates pioneered. Their work will hopefully shift the direction of evaluation practices in donor agencies towards incorporating results outlined in the impact evaluations of these cost-effective interventions. This will bring forward tools that can help non-impact evaluation managers assess the quality of these studies while also sidestepping common problems donor agencies face when trying to integrate impact evaluations into their project cycles.