Enhancing impacts of international development interventions has become
a central issue of the twenty-first century. Conventional monitoring and
evaluation (M&E) tools either focus on efficiency (output-to-input
relationships) or strive to demonstrate a logical progression from
specific actors and factors of an intervention to development impacts
(inputs => activities => outputs => outcomes => impacts). However, in
complex adaptive systems there is neither such a linear results chain
nor can impacts be unambiguously attributed to an actor or a factor.
Therefore, alternative ways of doing M&E focus on outcomes - the changes
in behaviour and social relations - rather than on impacts, such as
poverty reduction, environmental protection and social inclusion.
Innovation systems thinking, particularly in renewable natural resource,
agriculture and rural development, informs that the dominant paradigm of
impact assessment should be complemented by social innovation
assessment, providing research and development actors with critical
learning lessons. This paper integrates two distant bodies of literature
- the literature on impact assessment of research and development
interventions, and the literature on social psychology of assessing
learning and innovations. Based on case studies of a series of projects
implemented in India and Nepal under DFID's 11-year Renewable Natural
Resources Research Strategy (RNRRS) programme between 1995 and 2006, a
social innovation assessment tool was developed and implemented. The
tool includes questions about critical incidents and modes of
stakeholder interactions to be ranked on a four-point scale depending on
how often the statements apply to the respondents' work environments.
The social innovation assessment provides critical learning lessons for
social innovation generation and overall performance improvement in
collaborative research and development interventions at the
organisational, network and system levels.
Key Words: Agriculture, Systems of Innovation, Social Innovation, India, Nepal, South Asia
Journal Codes: C4, C12, O13, O21, O31, Q2
UNU-MERIT Working Papers ISSN 1871-9872