Evaluation has a long history of being used to promote and improve development. Different evaluation approaches have been used, reflecting different understandings of what development is and the role of evaluation—as a support for rational decision making or as part of an incentive system for performance. These different approaches to development evaluation are not mutually exclusive or incommensurable. Each has potential validity and utility, depending on what is being evaluated and the purpose of the evaluation. We discuss eight approaches to development evaluation, noting that most have been present throughout the history of development but have been emphasized and promoted at different historical points for political and other reasons. Evaluators and development practitioners who understand the full range of evaluation options and the types of development for which they are best suited can maximize the contribution evaluation can make to improving development processes and outcomes.
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