As discussed on the M&E page, there are acknowledged difficulties in evaluating processes, like engagement, rather than activities which deliver concrete and measurable results. This paper takes a critical look at current M&E practice relating fo 'knowledge for development' a field which, because of its highly interactive nature, has similarities to engagement.
Although the existing literature offers excellent insights into the current practices to monitor and evaluate knowledge management for development (KM4D), some deeper issues have not been addressed explicitly enough to do justice to the philosophical and practical ground on which the IKM Emergent Research Programme is based. In order to redress these shortcomings, this paper offers an overview of the field of monitoring and evaluation (M&E) of KM4D and where it might be heading. The paper first clears the ground by offering definitions on the key concepts involved, sheds light on the dark areas of current practices and paradigms before briefly concluding on the need to address the multiple knowledges that are contributing to the journey. The journey preparations end with signposts that have been theorized and/or implemented in order to shed some light along the way and clear a path that could be followed. Throughout this paper, the authors have assumed that knowledge has its own role as a lead player in the design, practice, and outcomes of development programs and projects. As a lead player, knowledge has its own particular requirements for M&E, and those requirements apply to the initiative as a whole. There is a gap between the knowledge industry supported by organizations and the knowledge needs of their clients. M&E is often allocated a ‘weak’ position in the design of a development project. That weakness is reinforced by the dominance of a requirement to measure outputs, thus eliminating an understanding of the intangibles of trust, respect, translation, and collaboration, the reason for the journey into social change in the first place. In reviewing the requirements of M&E for the development sector, the authors have examined the barriers to effectiveness and the questions that need to be asked. Addressing these barriers and answering these questions requires recognition of the many interests involved, each with their own ideals, sources of information and avenues for action. In particular they have recognized that decisions on the design, conduct and outcomes of a development initiative are determined by multiple knowledges, those of key individuals, the affected community, the specialist advisors, the influential organisations, and the holistic focus of the initiative in the first place. A review of the models of M&E most frequently applied in the development sector found that these considered single dimensions of an intervention, rather than attempting to provide an understanding of the whole. Few if any of the current approaches to M&E take account of the flows of ideals, facts, ideas and actions that make up the iterative learning cycle of any initiative for social change. Even less are they likely to recognize, much less include, the multiple knowledges involved in the course of a development programme. There is need to develop a framework which encompasses all of these dimensions. In IKM Working Paper No. 13, the authors consider what such a framework could look like and propose a collective enquiry approach as a possible way forward.