Original Research - Special Collection: Made in Africa Evaluation

A scoping review of intersections between indigenous knowledge systems and complexity-responsive evaluation research

Caitlin Blaser-Mapitsa
African Evaluation Journal | Vol 10, No 1 | a624 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/aej.v10i1.624 | © 2022 Caitlin Blaser-Mapitsa | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 18 February 2022 | Published: 22 July 2022

About the author(s)

Caitlin Blaser-Mapitsa, Faculty of Commerce, Law and Management, School of Governance, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa


Background: Acknowledging the need to transform the evaluation sector in Africa, locally generated approaches have been a recent area of contestation for both researchers and practitioners. Whilst the need for an African evaluation approach has been well established in the literature, there are still significant gaps in a proactive response. One of these gaps is the role of indigenous knowledge systems in these evaluation approaches. Indigenous knowledge systems have been a priority research area for decades, often in fields of science and technology, education and in research methods. Despite these strong overlaps with areas of interest to evaluators, there has been relatively little intersection between research on evaluation systems and that on indigenous knowledge systems.

Objectives: This article brings together these two areas of research to see what lessons for African-rooted evaluation approaches emerge from the body of research on indigenous knowledge systems.

Method: To do this, a scoping review was conducted, applying a thematic analysis to literature identified for inclusion in the study.

Results: This study found that there is considerable scope for the evaluation sector to draw on indigenous knowledge systems research, particularly drawing on process and methodological lessons from designing studies, as well as defining power dynamics and critical systems approaches.

Conclusion: This analysis can contribute to a needed debate about how to define and promote localised, contextually relevant evaluation tools and methods. It can also contribute to building a research agenda around African evaluation approaches.


evaluation; critical systems; indigenous knowledge systems; research methods; applied research; transforming development


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Crossref Citations

1. Made in Africa Evaluation
Mark Abrahams, Steven Masvaure, Candice Morkel
African Evaluation Journal  vol: 10  issue: 1  year: 2022  
doi: 10.4102/aej.v10i1.665