Department of Political Science

The contribution of process tracing to theory-based evaluations of complex aid instruments

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  • Derek Beach
  • Johannes Schmitt, University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany
This article focuses on methodological challenges in evaluating complex program aid interventions like budget support. We show that recent innovations in process-tracing methodology can help to solve the identified challenges and increase the strength of causal inference made when using case studies in demanding settings. For the specific task of evaluating the governance effectiveness of budget support interventions, we developed a more fine-grained causal mechanism for a subset of the comprehensive program theory of budget support. Moreover, based on the informal use of Bayesian logic, we have elaborated on how to increase the conclusiveness of empirical evidence for one part of the theorized causal mechanism. We argue that by establishing an explicit
theorized mechanism prior to empirical research and by critically judging our evidence according to an informal Bayesian logic we can remedy some of the problems at hand in much case-study research and increase the inferential leverage in complex within-case evaluation studies.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEvaluation: The International Journal of Theory, Research and Practice
Pages (from-to)429-447
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 2015

    Research areas

  • budget support, causal mechanisms, governance, methodology, process tracing, theory-based evaluation

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