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does research interfere with practice?

October 18, 2010


The National Committee for International Cooperation and Sustainable Development (NCDO) in the Netherlands publishes a monthly magazine about Dutch policy concerning development and international cooperation. It provides an interesting overview and, sometimes, critical perspective of those policies through articles written by journalists, researchers and practitioners. As in every journal or magazine, there are regular contributions by a selected few on their day-to-day work or outspoken opinions. One of these regular contributors is Evelijne Bruning, Director of the Hunger Project in the Netherlands. Her column posted on the 6th of October commented on the tension between research and practice as she observed it from one of her own programme in Ghana. She describes her surprise and indignation after finding that an impact evaluation of her programme on the basis of randomized experiments affected their usual way of work and arguest that researching the impact of her programme actually made it worse. In my response to her column, I express my own surprise as she should have expected alterations into the programme’s design when she agreed to the evaluation of her programme’s impact through this type of research. For those of you who read Dutch, her column and my response can be found at the website of IS Online.

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