Supporting adaptive management. Monitoring and evaluation tools and approaches - Pasanen and Barnett (2019)


This working paper introduces a set of monitoring and evaluation (M&E) tools and approaches, discussing their potential usefulness in supporting adaptive management in development and humanitarian programmes. It emphasises adaptive programmes characterised by complex aspects, such as: (1) they are innovative; (2) they have uncertain pathways for change; or (3) they operate in uncertain or unstable environments. 

The paper notes that most of these tools have been used in international development for many years. However, the authors argue that adaptive management brings additional challenges for monitoring and evaluating programmes, as they require intentional M&E design from the start that is oriented towards both learning and accountability. All the tools recommended in the paper have the potential to support learning and adaptation, although in various ways and at different stages of a programme. Some of the tools included can support strategic planning and diagnosing throughout a programme – especially during design and inception – while others can help analyse causal relationships at specific points in a programme. The paper argues that it is important to tailor the approach used for its intended purpose. However, it notes that whether learning and adaptation happens depends also on factors other than the choice of M&E methods.