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What Works in Practice? Responding to Complexity in International Development Monitoring and Evaluation Open Access

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The integration of complexity into study and practice of monitoring and evaluation (M&E;) has been accompanied by increased demands on M&E; teams. Practitioners must now meet accountability requirements for measuring impact, include strategies to capture unexpected program outcomes, incentivize learning amongst program teams, and produce information for managing adaptively over a program’s life. In this dissertation I conduct interviews with M&E; practitioners to understand their perspectives of complexity, experiences using tools touted by the literature, and innovative efforts to respond to complexity in program contexts. I found that practitioners are, by and large, utilizing and adapting many of the tools in the literature to meet some demands on M&E; activities, but challenges for meeting the multiplicity of demands remain. I propose a new complexity-response framework to help guide practitioners in designing M&E; systems that can address complexity, encourage learning and adaptive management, and continue to meet donor accountability needs.

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