In practice, an intervention is rarely the sole cause of an observed effect. At the same time, we as evaluators want to know what the precise effect of an intervention is. So how can we measure which changes are caused solely by the intervention? And how can we account for a complex set of other potential influencing factors?
While contribution analysis is rarely used in evaluations so far, the method has potential, particularly for questions on effectiveness and impact in complex evaluations. As a theory-based evaluation method, contribution analysis is particularly well suited to identify and evaluate the contribution of an intervention to an (overarching) outcome taking into account various other influencing factors. Likewise, as a context-sensitive method, contribution analysis can help to answer the question of how and under which specific circumstances certain effects were (not) achieved.
In line with the conference topic, the aim of this session is twofold: First, to reflect on the potential and pitfalls of contribution analysis as a context-specific method, which allows for capturing case-specific factors (such as country-level drivers of change). Second, to present and discuss experiences with contribution analysis as a collaborative method. Whereas a collaborative effort with diverse stakeholders may result in capturing the complexity of an intervention more accurately and lead to an increased acceptance, there are risks to such an approach. Throughout the session, the speakers draw on the DEval evaluation "The promotion of sustainable supply chains through German development cooperation based on the example of the textile sector" of the German Institute for Development Evaluation (DEval), which used contribution analyses to answer questions on effectiveness in the complex context of sustainable supply chains. In the evaluation, we conducted case studies in Bangladesh and Germany to examine German development cooperation’s contribution to reducing human rights violations and environmental damage in Bangladesh, and to companies fulfilling their corporate due diligence obligations in Germany. Overall, the session provides participants the opportunity to jointly discuss the potential and challenges of contribution analyses.
- Dr Angela Heucher | Evaluator, Team Leader and Gender Equality Officer at DEval
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