Loughborough University
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Bridging the divide between upward accountability and learning-based approaches to development evaluation: strategies for an enabling environment

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journal contribution
posted on 2017-01-05, 14:27 authored by June Lennie, Jo TacchiJo Tacchi
A more complex and unstable development context and major shifts in development theory and practice over the past 20 years have created major challenges for evaluation. There remains a vast gap between the theory and practice of development evaluation that needs to be resolved. This indicates a vital need to bridge the divide between dominant results-based, upward accountability evaluation approaches and emergent learning, participatory and complexity-based approaches to more effectively achieve development goals. In this article we explore this divide and contrast these approaches, highlighting some of the key challenges that each face. Drawing on our recent research, we identify key challenges, tensions and contradictions in evaluating communication for development (C4D) that need to be better understood and addressed. We outline a new conceptual framework for evaluating C4D and other complex development initiatives as a strategy to address these challenges. We argue that achieving change requires reconceptualising accountability and learning, developing evaluation capacities that enable learning and multiple forms of accountability, and drawing on local knowledge, ideas and innovation to develop and implement more appropriate and effective evaluation approaches. These strategies can create an enabling environment in which these new ideas and approaches can flourish and complex development issues can be better addressed.


Australian Research Council and Equal Access



  • Loughborough University London

Published in

Evaluation Journal of Australasia






12 - 23


LENNIE, J. and TACCHI, J., 2014. Bridging the divide between upward accountability and learning-based approaches to development evaluation: strategies for an enabling environment. Evaluation Journal of Australasia, 14 (1), pp. 12-23.


Australasian Evaluation Society


  • AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Publisher statement

This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

Publication date



This paper was accepted for publication in the journal Evaluation Journal of Australasia and appears here with the kind permission of the publisher. The definitive published version is available at http://search.informit.com.au/documentSummary;dn=513236376941726;res=IELBUS.




  • en

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