Cost–Benefit Analysis (CBA) or the Highway? An Alternative Road to Investigating the Value for Money of International Development Research

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Abstract

Research for development (R4D) funding is increasingly expected to demonstrate value for money (VfM). However, the dominance of positivist approaches to evaluating VfM, such as cost-benefit analysis, do not fully account for the complexity of R4D funds and risk undermining efforts to contribute to transformational development. This paper posits an alternative approach to evaluating VfM, using the UK’s Global Challenges Research Fund and the Newton Fund as case studies. Based on a constructivist approach to valuing outcomes, this approach applies a collaboratively developed rubric-based peer review to a sample of projects. This is more appropriate for the complexity of R4D interventions, particularly when considering uncertain and emergent outcomes over a long timeframe. This approach could be adapted to other complex interventions, demonstrating that our options are not merely “CBA or the highway” and there are indeed alternative routes to evaluating VfM.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Development Research
Early online date21 Oct 2022
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 21 Oct 2022

Keywords

  • Constructivist evaluation
  • Economic evaluation
  • Research for development
  • Rubrics
  • Value for money

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Development

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