Presentation on theme: "Theory-Based Evaluation:"— Presentation transcript:
1 Theory-Based Evaluation: Untapped potential for EU Regional PolicyMarielle RichéEvaluation Unit, DG Regional policy, European CommissionHelsinki, 4th October October 2012
2 Content of paper Evaluations in EU regional policy: state of play TBE are relevant for regional policy: throughout policy cycle and for policy makingTBE still has much untapped potential: too much focus on funds absorption and lack of clear theories of change: new opening for TBE (stronger focus on results, new regulatory requirements)Looking forward
3 Evaluations in EU regional policy Programme and evaluation management: MS or regions (EC: ex post evaluations)Programmes run for 9 years ( /15)Cover research, ICT, urban generation, SMEs, environment, social infrastructures etc.May focus on specific territories, group of people, sectorsMay use "integrated approaches", may support "innovation systems" – complex programmes
4 Evaluations in EU regional policy MS/Regions: some 266 evaluations since 2007Most on implementation issues and policy relevance, few on outcomes (27%)Most based on traditional qualitative techniques and monitoring dataEC role: improve evaluation practiceLong-range aim: more rigorous evidence for policy making, building shared knowledge ("Regio collaboration")
5 TBE are relevant for regional policy Programmes (should) rely on a theory of changeTBE are relevant throughout the programming cycle (ex ante, in itinere, ex post)Analyse the assumptions underlying the programmeAssess the plausibility of programme achievements as plannedAssess contribution, analyse mechanisms leading to results, context, unintended effects
6 TBE are relevant for regional policy Fields of intervention where counterfactual impact evaluations not possibleComplicated/complex programmesContext analysis allows for policy adaptation and replicationCommunication on programme outcomes (narratives)Participative evaluations (partnership principle)
7 An untapped potentialProgrammes more focused on funds absorption than on resultsEvaluations carried out at the beginning of the period, focused on implementationNo explicit theories in programmesOver-confidence in indicators to measure actual outcomes"Myopia" of programmes (focus on first results)Reluctance to commit to outcomes which are not "under control"
8 2014-2020: a new opening for more TBE Political commitment for a "result-based" policyNew logical framework, taking into account context and other factors, where impact is the contribution to observed resultsStronger requirements for ex ante evaluationsCompulsory impact evaluations for each priority axis of programmes (covers different interlinked interventions)Our preparatory work with Member States: guidance and pilots
9 How to implement these new requirements for 2014-2020? Our advice to Member States:Use the evaluation ex ante to strengthen the programme theories of changeBe open to new approaches and allow for discussion on methods in Terms of ReferenceBe realistic: take into account budget and time constraints, think of the primary use of evaluation (improve implementation or assess effectiveness? target audience?).
10 How to implement these new requirements for 2014-2020? Our advice to evaluators:Help commissioners to refine evaluation questionsPropose and defend TBE designs mixing methods according to evaluation questions, timing, budget, planned useDocument data collection and analysis processes in evaluation reports
11 ConclusionWe should not miss the opportunity given by ex ante evaluationsCommon goals: create a body of evidence on regional developmentNeed for critical mass of good quality TBE: mix of methods framed by a rigorous designNeed to develop strategies to minimise potential bias in data collection and analysisNeed to develop criteria and standards for theory-based designs.