Reinertsen, Bjørkdahl and McNeill: Accountability versus learning in aid evaluation: A practice-oriented exploration of persistent dilemmas

Published in Evaluation, 2022.

journal cover

Download the article Open Access on the publisher's website.


Learning and accountability are customarily defined as ‘the dual purpose’ of development aid evaluation, yet this notion is contested. Based on an overview of the existing literature, we identify four ideal type positions in this debate: (1) accountability and learning are complementary objectives, (2) there is a reconcilable tension, (3) there are problematic trade-offs and (4) the two are irreconcilable. Drawing on empirical evidence from Sweden and Norway relating to evaluation processes, evaluation reports and evaluation systems within the sector of development aid, we conclude that pursuing this dual purpose in practice involves trade-offs which need to be recognised. We end with implications for aid evaluation policy and practice.


Hilde Reinertsen, Kristian Bjørkdahl and Desmond McNeill.

Published Sep. 7, 2022 2:27 PM - Last modified Sep. 7, 2022 2:27 PM