Mastering Theory-Based Impact Evaluation

28-29/Mar/2017  •  Maastricht

Project Leader
Michael Burnett BA FCA MCIPS MCIPD
For more information about the activity, please contact:

What is this course about?seminar_confirmed_EIPA
In the past, evaluation focused to a large extent on the mechanisms of delivering programmes or projects. In other words, it focused on the implementation process. Relatively little attention was paid to evaluating the impact of interventions that were being financed.

While in recent years substantial efforts have been made to promote and disseminate quantitative counter-factual impact evaluation practice, there is much less sharing of good practice concerning so-called theory-based impact evaluation. However, while counter-factual impact evaluation can tell us the extent of the impact made by an intervention, theory-based impact evaluation is crucial to increasing our understanding of why certain interventions do or do not work. Without this understanding, it is impossible to improve interventions. In addition, in many cases counter-factual impact evaluation is not actually a viable method, and then theory-based evaluation can still inform how the intervention is contributing to change.

This seminar will therefore focus on this theory-based impact evaluation, drawing on the latest advances made in terms of methodology. The most cited methods – process tracing, congruence analysis, Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA), Pawson and Tilley’s realist evaluation and Mayne’s contribution analysis – will all be covered and put into perspective. Several cases will be used to explain these methods. You will also undertake a number of exercises to better understand the methods. An important focus of the course will be to show you how theory-based impact evaluation can match the rigour associated with counter-factual impact evaluation.

The seminar is aimed at those with experienced in impact evaluation who wish to further advance their capabilities in this field.

How will it help you?
The seminar will enable you to design and commission theory-based impact evaluations.

Who will benefit most?
This two-day seminar is aimed at public officials from EU Member States, candidate countries, the EU institutions and other multilateral institutions, as well as auditors, consultants, staff of NGOs, and other stakeholders involved in the process of impact evaluation of policies, programmes and projects.


Theory-based impact evaluation (TBIE) is not the poor relation of counter-factual impact evaluation (CIE). It makes more sense to see CIE as part of TBIE in a case study framework. But evaluators must know how to use cutting edge approaches such as Process Tracing, Congruence Analysis and Qualitative Comparative Analysis properly
Benedict Wauters

At times of limited resources smart spending means focusing on projects which will deliver - effective impact evaluation can tell us what these are
Michael Burnett

This seminar will also be held in:
21/Mar/18 • Maastricht