Around the Institute

Can’t Go Wrong with a Classic

October 17, 2014

Accountability…to Whom?

The Washington Post recently published a nuanced piece about Greg Mortenson (of Three Cups of Tea fame) as he attempts to rehabilitate his image and that of his NGO after scandalous revelations of fraud and mismanagement. Mortenson abused the public trust in the US; but he seems to still have great credibility in Afghanistan. Which one really matters? He did build some schools. Several are empty, but that may be for reasons beyond his control. When we are talking about accountability, what counts?    

Zeroing in on Systems Change

Learning for Action’s Nancy Latham has a keen eye for systems. Just check out her latest publication: A Practical Guide to Evaluating Systems Change in a Human Services System Context. The report builds on Patton’s developmental approach to provide evaluators with a set of concrete and actionable guidelines on ways to assess change in complex systems. Lantham defines “pathways” and “institutional structures,” introduces her own “systems change framework,” and elaborates on the factors influencing effective collaboration among “systems change agents.” Lots of moving parts, but Latham makes it all easy to understand.  

A Classic

The Urban Institute is renowned for its fancy quantitative analyses. But they sure know their qualitative methods too. Their latest report makes full use of that classic – the interview – to evaluate the initial phase of a resilience initiative sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation. The evaluation team interviewed 113 stakeholders, reviewed over 12,000 documents, and attended 17 events to generate the findings in this report. We’ve conducted our fair share of interviews in the past (100+ for a single project), so we understand just how valuable they can be in helping us define a program’s contribution to social change.