Bridging the academic-practitioner gap in RCTs

Abstract

The use of Randomized Controlled Trials to evaluate development programs presents important challenges and opportunities for collaboration between academics and practitioners. Our team of experts measured the effectiveness of multi-stakeholder forums in 107 villages in Uganda over three years using an RCT approach. The focused technical demands of an RCT and the broad reality of practitioner worlds forced the team to tackle questions of (1) how to manage the tensions of qualitative and quantitative data given the demand for evaluation procedures like power analysis estimation and hypothesis testing, (2) how to define measurable impact so it represents program realities and is amenable to the standardization required by an RCT, and (3) what compromises are required to maintain the spirit and practice of collaboration. We conclude that meaningful collaboration requires immense effort and compromise to leverage the significant benefits possible under this research paradigm.

Publication
World Development, 127
Bill Schultz
Bill Schultz
Asst. Instructional Professor

My substantive research interests include international development, conservation efforts, and resource politics. Methodologically, I’m interested in geospatial data, causal inference, and game theory.