Experimentalism and development evaluation: Will the bubble burst?

25 May 2012

Robert Piccioto on the RCT craze provides an excellent sense of history and measure to what they can and cannot do.

One thing though; not all those promoting them are micro economists. Most, in fact have little or no experience in quantitative research. A dangerous combination: hype and ignorance.

ngo performance

My recent blog on randomised control trials led to enthustiastic comments about Robert Picciotto’s recent paper: Experimentalism and development evaluation: Will the bubble burst?.

I am delighted that Robert agreed to explain the main ideas in this guest blog. Robert (“Bob”) was previously Director General, Evaluation, at the World Bank and is now a Visiting Professor at King’s College, London.

Probing the paradox of the RCT craze in international development

The growing popularity of randomised control trials (RCTs) in the international development domain is not accidental. It reflects tensions within an economics profession humbled by the failure of standard development recipes.  It is also the result of a well funded campaign aimed at raising the bar in development evaluation quality that has unfortunately backed the wrong horse.

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