In this post, I want to focus on actions we can take to move the debate forward, for those who are
interested in the T4D proposition: transparency, accountability and
participation as a means towards improved service delivery:
Use Available research and evaluations to Inform Operational Rules of Thumb
Broaden the Focus of the Research Agenda
Foster imagination by taking into consideration the ideas of a
broader range of actors
1. Use Available research and evaluations to Inform Operational Rules of Thumb
T4D will be producing more lessons about the “messiness” that makes up practitioners’
daily lives in the quest for complex health impacts h/t Courtney Tolmie. These insights are invaluable for providing much needed guideposts for practical and effective
transparency, participation, and accountability into sectors. Still, Jim Anderson is on point in another Twitter reaction to
the T4D findings: One study – T4D or any
other – should not determine
A group of colleagues, led by Sue Cant at World Vision, are taking concrete steps to help practitioners and decision-makers make the most of the research, evaluations (including more modest pieces) and tacit learning. We will be collating operational rules of thumb that can help us design, implement, and evaluate interventions moving forward. The focus is on practical decisions, so rather than point to ideal designs, we are hoping to discuss some of the pros and cons entailed in researchers’ and evaluators’ findings to help colleagues think about their own contexts and adapt the lessons.
2.Broaden the Focus of the Research Agenda
In the T4D twitter debate Brian Levy argued
that we need a change in the focus
of the research agenda.
What does a research agenda for the next 10 years look
like? We can take a cue from Lant Prittchett’s recent blog post identifying a third wave of discussion on how
governance affects development outcomes (post-’mono-cropping’ and post-World Development Report of 2004). The World Development Reports of 2017 and 2018 are integral to the third wave.
Why should we pivot now? This focus on sectors is timely not only because we found
the limits of old Transparency and Accountability theories. We need new
narratives and ways to explain mixed results.
Also, sectoral baselines and goals are changing from service
delivery access to quality, and so are approaches. Think
Universal Health Care, Quality of Education or the Learning Agenda, Frontline Service Delivery and other whole of government
/ cross sector approaches. They were not at the center of the agenda in 2012.
This is a game-changer (as Sol Gattoni, Maria Poli and I argue at
greater length in other posts, here and here).
As practice is evolving faster than research
parameters, the gap between supply and demand of knowledge is widening. Closing
the gap does not mean throwing the baby with the bathwater. It’s throwing the
water and acknowledging the baby is learning to walk.
imagination by engaging the ideas of a broader range of actors
imagination might be easier to achieve with inputs from a broader range/different group of practitioners,
academics. We need to reach out outside the box without reinventing the wheel. For all our championing of our global networks
and reach, there is too much experimentation and learning happening outside the radar screen of our
conversations. There is research happening outside the go-to universities and
think tanks. There are young researchers putting thought into useful questions.
There are disciplines and publications we are unaware about. I don’t see researchers and practitioners
that made me think outside the box
invited to our events or their works cited in our speeches and papers.
For instance, for all the rage of co-creation, including in T4D, we have not
engaged research and researchers who have focused on co-production in the North and South, adding to the groundbreaking work of Elinor Ostrom. We can be more proactive addressing our blind
I’ve faced the dilemma in the early
days of T4D. It is difficult and risky to bring an “unknown entity” into a
group of usual suspects to enrich the debate and move our thinking forward. It
is not easy to create conditions and incentives for colleagues who are working
around the world and not hooked into the debate. Some of them may not believe
they have a “safe space” to disagree with the spoken or unspoken parameters of
the debate. We can do much better to acknowledge those who produce knowledge
from the South (check the Bukavo Series).
can look beyond the usual suspects, make educated guesses, bridge, and lead
forward. There is a diverse silent coalition of global researchers and
practitioners that can and should help shape the agenda for the next 10 years.
PS. I realized that to legitimate my points I printed
tweets from men who are known and respected in the North. I am a
Southern woman. I am acutely aware that
we need to #breaktheroles in this conversation, too.
This blog post reflects the views of the author drawing on prior research and experience. Thanks to Nathaniel Heller, Courtney Tolmie, Miriam McCarthy, Emilie Fokkelman, Alan Hudson, Jeff Thindwa and Sol Gattoni for their time and input.
 For more of Brian Levy’s
argument see here.
Also, see what Maria Poli, Emilie
Fokkelman have been saying about the potential value of social accountability for delivering learning. For open data
centered-analysis reaching a related conclusion, check Michael Jelenic’s work. Gill Westhorp and Wahana Visi here and Manoj Mohanan and team here provide useful building blocks about the value of
transparency, accountability and participation for health systems and delivery
chains. Paula Schommer has helped me
think about when and how transparency and accountability can add value to
contracting of different types of urban
service delivery (see here).
About the Author
Florencia Guerzovich – Independent Consultant and Researcher. Sr. Monitoring, Evaluation, Research and Learning Advisor, The Global Partnership for Social Accountability, The World Bank. [email protected]
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