From CIPE, A Valuable KM Resource: 25 years of Impact Evaluation
Tamirat Y. Chulta
Knowledge Sharing (KS) and Knowledge Management (KM) practices highly hinge on, among other things, the sharing of emerging best practices, lessons learned from implementation of projects or programs. In today’s development work the role knowledge management or sharing plays in achieving better results is getting high attention among many, from policy makers to field practitioners; from big international organizations to small local community groups alike. Knowledge is Key and it is power; the key to do things efficiently and effectively. Accordingly, organizations around the world are reforming themselves to be knowledge driven to best position themselves and deliver results to clients and constituents to stay in business or face the imminent marginalization. They are revising and evaluating their many years of projects and programs and trying to capture, analyze, learn from themselves and from other peer organizations and share available what has worked and became successful? Why it didn’t work? What emerging and tested best practice is out there that can be replicated somewhere else being contextualized? In short, organizations are putting efforts for sharing and renewing both the tacit and explicit knowledge of employees to enhance organizational performance and create value. In addition, practitioners are trying to use available and accessible knowledge through different media to help them solve challenges and develop their career and profession.
The current world economic situation makes us to think critically, learn fast from our peer practitioners or organizations and leverage resources. Lots of resources are being spent on lots of initiatives to generate state of the art technology or provide primary health care for mothers and children. High caliber experts are available around the world, however, there may be a person having trouble to fix a simple problem at the project site among the community in need. Knowledge here and there is available but it may not be accessible. Making knowledge management or sharing products available is a good cause to help others who may learn and adapt the lessons to their particular situation without much hurdle and be able to manage for results. Managing for Development Results (MfDR) is a management strategy that focuses on using performance information to improve decision-making which involves using information to make better decisions and steer development efforts toward clearly defined goals (OECD, 2005). Hence, Sharing knowledge and emerging tested good practices help facilitate the process of Managing for results where citizens benefit from best results.
Development work is not easy and it has even become more complex and too dynamic with current situations around the world. Its complexity makes the solution to problems much harder than ever. It is now clear more than ever that one solution to a common problem approach is no more viable. That is where the knowledge sharing and management practices come to the equation to provide a feasible way out. It helps you to learn from colleagues, experts, institutions etc. The advancement of technology, the emergence of social media and networks, current economic, political and social situations around the globe more than ever made development institutions, governments, CSOs, Not-for-Profit organizations (NGOs) open up themselves to create the emerging big knowledge community where knowledge become accessible.
Explicit and tacit Knowledge on project design, implementation, sector development programs, poverty reduction, economic growth, democracy and human rights, achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), etc. are now systematically captured, validated, analyzed and being shared among practitioners widely. One of the organizations that I have recently come across which is trying to build much of its work around the knowledge management initiative, focusing on capturing lessons learned and applying these lessons to the design and implementation of future efforts and making knowledge accessible to the wider audience is the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) with a mission “To strengthen democracy around the globe through private enterprise and market-oriented reform.” (www.cipe.org)
“CIPE strengthens democracy around the globe through private enterprise and market-oriented reform and it is one of the four core institutes of the National Endowment for Democracy. Since 1983, CIPE has worked with business leaders, policymakers, and journalists to build the civic institutions vital to a democratic society.” (www.cipe.org ) As it is clearly set out in the enterprise’s website the enterprise’s key program areas include anti-corruption, advocacy, business associations, corporate governance, democratic governance, access to information, the informal sector and property rights, and women and youth. Moreover, CIPE programs are supported by the National Endowment for Democracy, the U.S. Agency for International Development and the U.S. Department of State, the Middle East Partnership Initiative, and the U.S. Embassy in Iraq Office for Private Sector Development.
For over 25 years, CIPE has been tirelessly working with business leaders, policymakers, and journalists to build the civic institutions vital to a democratic society and has recently concluded an Impact Evaluation exercise of its 25 Years effort of strengthening democracy through market- oriented reform. In CIPE’s own words, and in line with CIPE’s commitment to learning as an organization, the 25 years review “assesses the impact of CIPE’s efforts and contributes to our understanding of what drives democratic and market reforms (CIPE, 2010).” Such high quality Evaluation reports are good addition to the knowledge management resource collection and are very useful as it lends the biggest opportunity to learn from a quarter century long development efforts around the world on multiple key issues, sectors, programs and could be a good learning and bench marking practice for like organizations to follow suite. “The 25-Year Impact Evaluation presents two opportunities: to take stock of progress made and lessons learned, and to build this knowledge into CIPE strategy for coming years”, argues the evaluation document. This 25-year evaluation report considers the success of different program themes, types of projects (in-house – those managed directly by CIPE– versus partnership projects – those managed by local partner organizations), types of partners, the country conditions that may affect a project, and project size (CIPE, 2010). CIPE’s Knowledge Management programs serve the twofold purposes of seizing lessons learned from present and past initiatives, and helping CIPE partners learn, adapt and apply these lessons and find new solutions to democratic and market reform challenges (CIPE, 2007).
This internal evaluation study reviews the endeavors and presents findings, lessons, and recommendations based on CIPE’s overall portfolio of democracy assistance programs from of the past 10 years (1999- 2008) and reflects on a quarter century of progress with internal review of more than 500 project reports. It embraces both micro-level project impact and macro-level performance trends of CIPE’s project portfolio. The Regional analysis part of the evaluation tries to look at the regional trends and findings for the last 10 years of CIPE projects. Each regional subsection (Africa, Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, EURASIA, Latin America and the Caribbean, Meddle Eats and North Africa, South Asia and Global) includes a analysis of the region’s projects by impact and examples of project successes and lessons learned in the region. Considerations of country conditions, Analysis of program themes and operating approaches, and recommendations for future approaches are respectively presented in detail in the document. It is intended to serve as learning and planning tool to help establish program goals, methods, and priorities (CIPE, 2010). Moreover, this document is a very useful knowledge resource for project managers, policy analysts, development planners, journalists, business leaders, Monitoring and Evaluation practitioners alike.
MfDR is for better results for citizens and it involves using progress monitoring and outcome/impact evaluation. And access to quality information is Key to the success of policy initiatives. It is very clear that by making available and accessible this high quality knowledge and other notable resource for many practitioners CIPE strives to achieve its more than 25 years not wavered mission and objective. CIPE deserves the plaudits for adding one more important knowledge material for the MfDR community, where every development partner and stakeholder is a member!
N.B: You can access the 25 Year Evaluation document here.
Center for International Private Enterprise, www.cipe.org
CIPE (2007), Five Year Strategy 2007-2012
CIPE (2010), Twenty-Five Year Impact Evaluation
Nonaka I. and Takeuchi H. (1995), The Knowledge-Creating Company: How Japanese Companies Create the Dynamics of Innovation
OECD (2005), Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness
 One of the long standing active members and founders of the AfCoP-MfDR, served in the community’s Monitoring and Evaluation Core Management Teams since 2008, as a member and Team Leader. The author has worked for the Government of Ethiopia with the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development for more than six years on Planning and Budgeting, Development and Socio-economic Research and MDG M&E. Currently working on Knowledge Management and other development projects with the Impact Alliance in Washington, DC, USA.
 Knowledge contained in manuals and procedures (Nonaka and Takeuchi, 1995)
 Knowledge, learned only by experience, and communicated only indirectly, through metaphor and analogy. (Nonaka and Takeuchi, 1995)