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Outcome Harvesting: Promise and Pitfalls of Participatory Design 

01-15-2019 06:55

This AEA presentation outlines ways that evaluation commissioners and evaluators can work together to overcome common challenges to commissioning and managing successful OH evaluations.  Donors, evaluation commissioners and managers play a critical role in creating an enabling environment for complexity-aware approaches such as Outcome Harvesting (OH). Many of the current institutionalized processes for planning, contracting, managing, reviewing and assessing evaluation are not well suited to participatory and adaptive approaches, such as OH. This presentation outlines lessons learned about creating enabling environments for OH including, identifying the right primary intended users and users; ensuring that OH is the right fit for evaluation questions; supporting an iterative design process that includes capacity building and informed participation in design; and limitations in the number of experienced practitioners.  Outcome Harvesting’s focus on users and their intended uses, and its participatory methodology create specific challenges for the evaluator at each step of the evaluation. They include contending with issues about evaluator independence, integrity of the process, process rigor, credibility of findings and support for use. This presentation provides recommendations based on extensive practical experience in negotiating the use of OH in evaluations.

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