Accountability versus learning in aid evaluation: A practice-oriented exploration of persistent dilemmas
Learning and accountability are customarily defined as ‘the dual purpose’ of development aid evaluation, yet this notion is contested. Based on an overview of the existing literature, Hilde Reinertsen, Kristian Bjørkdahl and Desmind McNeill identify four ideal type positions in this debate: (1) accountability and learning are complementary objectives, (2) there is a reconcilable tension, (3) there are problematic trade-offs and (4) the two are irreconcilable.
Drawing on empirical evidence from Sweden and Norway relating to evaluation processes, evaluation reports and evaluation systems within the sector of development aid, the authors conclude that pursuing this dual purpose in practice involves trade-offs which need to be recognised. The article ends with implications for aid evaluation policy and practice.
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