Applying a Systems and Complexity Lens to Building Evaluation Capacity

Learning from a multicountry donor’s experience

Although the evaluation field has increasingly integrated systems thinking and complexity science (STCS) into its work, little has been published on how to build capacity for STCS-informed evaluation. This article helps address that gap by exploring paired concepts drawn from the STCS and evaluation capacity building (ECB) literature, including: adaptive action and culture; boundaries and systems and structures; interrelationships and leadership; and perspectives and communication. The ideas are grounded by examples from the reflective case narrative of the Collaborative Crop Research Program and the system surrounding it. Ultimately, the case shares how STCS can reimagine ECB and how increased capacity of the participants and organization can change the broader system.

The article—which was written by KaYing Vang, Marah Moore, and Claire Nicklin—is part of a larger set of articles about the connections between STCS and evaluation.

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Peer-reviewed article