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Help or Hindrance? Results-orientation in conflict-affected situations

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Abstract

Results-orientation, impact assessment, and value for money have been creating a growing buzz in the fields of international cooperation and peacebuilding for the last few years. But what are the consequences of an increased focus on results for practice?

Drawing on expert debates at two workshops jointly organized by FriEnt - Working Group on Peace and Development and the Center for Peacebuilding (KOFF) at swisspeace that took place in May 2012 in Bonn and Berne, this working paper argues that results-orientation in its currently practiced form is more of a hindrance than a help for achieving better results. Methodological and organizational responses to make interventions in conflict-affected contexts more focused on results are often poorly adapted to grapple with the complexity of these environments.

An excessive emphasis on ‘upward accountability’ puts at risk the learning function of evaluation processes and testifies to the common power hierarchies in the international aid system. Against this backdrop, this working paper argues that a more thorough application of standards of good practice in this field, more experimentation with alternative methods, and the creation of learning spaces outside of institutionalized processes can offer entry points to make results-orientation a more meaningful endeavor.