i know – but couldn’t we have asked, too?

things i know & understand:

  • this is cool research from @poverty_action
  • it’s fun and important to show and know that ‘we’ (development types) have poor assumptions about what will work
  • time and budgets are always constrained
  • this comment is super-predictable coming from me. but…

when i read this:

our results showed that although the consulting intervention caused short-term changes in business practices, these impacts dissipated within a year after the consulting ended. on average, we found no long-term benefit from the consulting, and actually lower short-term profits. we believe some business people hoped the advice would work and thus took it. but better bookkeeping and other business practices potentially took time away from the physical act of sewing clothes. once profits took a hit, enterprise owners likely abandoned the practices and reverted to their previous methods. [emphasis added]

i think to myself, ‘heather, why is it that you so rarely read:’

  • the respondents believed this program did/not have the intended effect because…” (this would be based on more qualitative research during our at the end of the study)
  • or, something along the lines of, “the respondents felt that future efforts could be improved by…” (more of that open-ended goodness)
  • or, “from our observations during the implementation of the intervention, we believe what happened is…”
  • or, “the implementers feel that x happened, that z presented serious challenges, and y could improve it in the future”
  • or, radically, “the respondents (or implementers) feel that a better way to have approached the same goal would have been…”

i am well aware that absolutely none of these things will provide definitive – or even ‘true’ – answers about what worked and why. but surely other people’s opinions besides the reseachers’ count and should be collected, despite the extra collection and analysis time? wouldn’t it be fun to have more information about why we are seeing the treatment effect that we see? among other sources, see here.