Original Research - Special Collection: Addressing Knowledge Asymmetries

Unpacking locally led research and evaluation through the lens of collaborative autoethnography

Clement Sefa-Nyarko, Edem Agbe, Alexander Afram, Raymond Hodor, Lucy Ofori-Davis, Arnold Bediako, Ernest A. Owusu
African Evaluation Journal | Vol 12, No 2 | a730 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/aej.v12i2.730 | © 2024 Clement Sefa-Nyarko, Edem Agbe, Alexander Afram, Raymond Hodor, Lucy Ofori-Davis, Arnold Bediako, Ernest A. Owusu | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 23 January 2024 | Published: 20 June 2024

About the author(s)

Clement Sefa-Nyarko, frican Leadership Centre, Faculty of Social Science and Public Policy, King’s College London, London, United Kingdom; and Research, Evaluation and Learning Unit, Participatory Development Associates Limited, Accra, Ghana
Edem Agbe, Research, Evaluation and Learning Unit, Participatory Development Associates Limited, Accra, Ghana; and School of Social Policy and Political Science, University of Lincoln, Lincoln, United Kingdom
Alexander Afram, Research, Evaluation and Learning Unit, Participatory Development Associates Limited, Accra, Ghana
Raymond Hodor, Research, Evaluation and Learning Unit, Participatory Development Associates Limited, Accra, Ghana
Lucy Ofori-Davis, Research, Evaluation and Learning Unit, Participatory Development Associates Limited, Accra, Ghana
Arnold Bediako, Research, Evaluation and Learning Unit, Participatory Development Associates Limited, Accra, Ghana
Ernest A. Owusu, Research, Evaluation and Learning Unit, Participatory Development Associates Limited, Accra, Ghana

Abstract

Background: Evaluation in Africa and the Global South has been driven by external, often foreign, actors and focused on meeting donor funding needs, conducted through the lens of ‘others’ other than the affected populations. There is growing interest to change or decolonise this trend in the international development community.

Objectives: To address the fundamental question of positionality in redefining the scope and understanding of locally-led evaluation.

Method: This qualitative research article departs from the practice of externally driven evaluation and adopts a methodology called collaborative autoethnography. Its strength is that it is experiential and reflective, and the researcher is also the researched. The collaborative nature tampers the extreme subjectivity in the legitimate analysis of personal experiences to interpret wider cultural, political, and social phenomena.

Results: We found that the notion of locally-led evaluation is highly nuanced and contested, and goes beyond a dichotomy between the ‘local’ and the ‘external’. Another arena of contestation which our research clarifies is the outcomes of locally-led evaluation. Local leadership of evaluation processes alone does not guarantee contextualised, participatory evaluation.

Conclusion: The localised adaptation and application of evaluation principles and practices are essential for relevance. But there is no one-cap-fit-all checklist. Much comes down to the values, mindsets, and competencies of evaluators.

Contribution: We propose that epistemology and methodology should go hand-in-hand with questions of identity or geography in evaluation, if relevance, robust application of indigenous methodologies, participation of the affected populations and uptake are the expected outcomes.


Keywords

locally led evaluation; African-led evaluation; collaborative autoethnography; autoethnography; Ghana; Africa; evaluation.

JEL Codes

A19: Other; A31: Collected Writings of Individuals; B52: Historical • Institutional • Evolutionary • Modern Monetary Theory

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 17: Partnerships for the goals

Metrics

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Total article views: 876


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