Challenge funds in international development: definitions, variations and research directions

James Copestake, Anne-Marie O'Riordan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (SciVal)
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The use of challenge funds to promote economic and social development continues to grow but has been the subject of relatively little research. This article draws on institutional economics (particularly principal-agent theory) to define challenge funds and review how they differ from other development funding mechanisms, taking into account their purpose, financial terms, interagency relationships, screening processes, selection mechanisms, implementation and risk sharing characteristics. It then draws on web-based data for 50 challenge funds to analyse variation in some of these characteristics. The paper identifies evaluability as an important influence, including the relative importance attached to promoting the financial performance of grantees relative to the indirect social benefits of their activities. We conclude with suggestions for further research into the design and performance of challenge funds
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalPublic Administration and Development
Issue number1
Early online date13 Feb 2015
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2015


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