Fieldwork is easy with eyes closed, misunderstanding all you see. The importance of going deep on context.
Speaker: Howard White, former executive director, 3ie
Date: 14 October 2014
Venue: John Snow Lecture Theatre, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Keppel Street
Co-Chairs: Richard Manning, Chair, 3ie Board of Commissioners and Annette Brown, Deputy Director 3ie, Head of US office
A neglected part of the evidence revolution is the sheer volume of data being collected through large scale surveys. Twenty years ago, it was the exception for economists to go to the field. Today it is the norm. But does this exposure to the subjects of their analysis give additional insights? Unfortunately, it will not if researchers neglect context.
In this lecture, Howard White argued that 'going deep on context' (historical, political and cultural) is necessary for a proper understanding of impact, and indeed should also inform intervention design. He gave examples from across Africa and Asia of how impact is mediated by social context.
About the speaker
Howard White is the former executive director of 3ie, former co-chair of the Campbell Collaboration International Development Coordinating Group and adjunct professor, Alfred Deakin Research Institute, Deakin University in Australia. His previous experience includes leading the impact evaluation programme of the World Bank’s Independent Evaluation Group and before that, several multi-country evaluations. He was the lead author of the World Bank report, African Poverty at the Millennium: Causes, Complexities and Challenges, which was part of his developing poverty training for 2,000 DFID staff at country offices around the world.
Howard has worked extensively on development-related issues in countries across Africa and Asia. He has published over 60 papers in internationally refereed journals and several books, focusing on aid effectiveness and poverty reduction. He is managing editor of the Journal of Development Studies and the Journal of Development Effectiveness. He has taught at the Institute of Social Studies in the Netherlands and the Institute of Development Studies in the UK. He continues to engage worldwide by giving workshops and providing training opportunities for policymakers on topics related to development effectiveness and impact evaluation.