Michael Woolcock of World Bank to Talk on Assessing External Validity of 'Complex' Development Interventions on 20 Jan

13 January, 2014

Michael Woolcock, Lead Social Development Specialist in the Development Research Group at the World Bank and Lecturer in Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School of Government, will give the next ODID Distinguished Visitor Lecture entitled "But how generalizable is that? A framework for assessing the external validity of 'complex' development interventions’.

The lecture will take place on Monday 20 January 2014 at 4:00 pm in Seminar Room 1.

Most of the intellectual and political energy expended on impact evaluations in recent years has focused on internal validity issues, or establishing a defensible methodological basis on which to assess causality and thus determine "what works". But even the most rigorously identified claims about the impact (or not) of a given development intervention do not, in and of themselves, address external validity concerns, namely whether these results can be expected in different contexts and scales of operation.

Practitioners and policy-makers face strong imperatives to replicate and ‘scale up’ seemingly successful projects, yet receive relatively little guidance from the research community on how to address these issues, especially when the interventions are highly 'complex' -- such as those focused on empowerment, governance, and legal reform.

Engaging with neighbouring professional fields and harnessing a broader array of methodological tools can provide a framework for such guidance.