Managing to Adapt: Analysing Adaptive Management for Planning, Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning

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May 25, 2017
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Adaptive management is at the heart of ‘doing development differently’ (Wild et al., 2016). Whether it is ‘here to stay’ depends on how much it is mainstreamed into existing development programming, especially planning, monitoring, evaluation, and learning (PMEL) cycles. In this report, we find that mainstreaming adaptive management in PMEL involves three strategies:

  1. planning for flexibility
  2. developing locally-owned M&E
  3. creating an enabling environment for learning.

Adopting these strategies contributes to virtuous cycles of PMEL. Oxfam GB has a broad impact and has long been committed to flexible programming (Shaw, 2016). We thus identify and assess examples of adaptive management within Oxfam’s PMEL frameworks, illustrating enablers and barriers in seven Oxfam programmes. We also showcase examples in Mercy Corps, the World Bank, DFID, and Care International. In doing so, we hope to inform adaptive approaches for PMEL and help practitioners be better equipped to address modern, complex challenges.

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