Original Research

Facing up to (online) fashion and fads … Face-to-face contact is here to stay in M&E capacity building. Evidence from 35 National Evaluation Societies

Sara Dewachter, Nathalie Holvoet
African Evaluation Journal | Vol 4, No 1 | a158 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/aej.v4i1.158 | © 2016 Sara Dewachter, Nathalie Holvoet | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 21 May 2015 | Published: 31 August 2016

About the author(s)

Sara Dewachter, Institute of Development Policy and Management, Antwerp, Belgium
Nathalie Holvoet, Institute of Development Policy and Management, Antwerp, Belgium


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Abstract

Background: Over the years, Communities of Practice have gained popularity as a capacity-building method among Monitoring and Evaluation practitioners. Yet, thus far, relatively little is known about their effectiveness.
Objectives: This article focuses on National Evaluation Societies as Communities of Practice that aim to contribute to the monitoring and evaluation capacity building of their members.
Method: Drawing upon a survey of 35 National Evaluation Societies in 33 low- and middle-income countries, we explore to what extent capacity building efforts have been successful and what factors explain the relative success or failure in capacity building. We rely upon Qualitative Comparative Analysis as we are particularly interested in different pathways to ensure successful National Evaluation Societies.
Results: Our findings highlight that regular face-to-face contact is a particularly important element. This does not entirely come as a surprise, as monitoring and evaluation capacity building often implies tacit knowledge that is most effectively shared face-to-face. Furthermore, capacity building in conducting and, particularly, using evaluations entails building networks among the monitoring and evaluation supply and demand side which can most easily be done through regular face-to-face interaction.
Conclusion: Our findings are not only theoretically interesting, they are also policy relevant; they hint at the fact that in an era of quick advances in technology, investing in face-to-face contact among members remains important.

Keywords

Community of practice; National Evaluation Society; Monitoring and Evaluation; capacity building

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