Around the Institute

Another Look at Impact Evaluations

August 2, 2013

Impactful Impactfulness for Impact

On July 17th, the Center for Global Development and the International Initiative for Impact Evaluation hosted an impressive daylong conference on the state of the impact evaluation (sub)field.  Even the title was provocative—“Impact Evaluation: Can We Learn More? Better?”  Now that videos are up on the website, along with pithy blog posts with reactions and takeaways, those of us who couldn’t make it to the event can learn more about components of a “good” impact evaluation, lessons for incorporating policymaker perspectives, strategies for increasing the utility of impact evaluations for end-users, and other meaty topics. 

Idea Factory

What’s an idea worth?  Well, you can’t measure it in hours, The New York Times’ Adam Davidson argues.  Starting with the case of a financial accountant who eschewed the billable hour in his work with start-ups, Davidson explores the challenge of putting a cash value on productivity in contexts that are dynamic and complex.  Yep, as in life.  But just ‘cause it’s darn hard to measure doesn’t mean we have to stick with old models we know are flawed (like the billable hour).  Let’s keep thinking on this.  Or think tanking, Washington-style.      

Social Change, Muppet-style

Last week, we wrote a blurb about new research on “edutainment” showing how media (especially that favorite of ours—the soap opera telenovela) works to influence certain behaviors.  Another familiar example: children’s TV programming.  Joey Mazzarino of Muppets fame recently wrote a touching piece for the Huffington Post about the show’s new project to help children of incarcerated parents cope.  Their website features a kit with videos, activities, stories, tips, and other resources for both children and caregivers on dealing with parental incarceration.  Now that you’ve checked it out, just hit pause for a second: how would you evaluate this project?