Institutional Learning and Change Initiative
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Institutional Learning and Change (ILAC) is an Initiative of the CGIAR that was created in 2003 during an impact assessment meeting hosted by the International Food and Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in Washington DC. At the meeting, participants advocated shifting project monitoring and evaluation approaches:
- from being product-focused to being focused on people and institutions
- from using external expert reviews to conducting internal critical self-reflection
- from documenting successes to learning from failures
A community of practice around this vision was formed, with institutional support from the International Service for National Agricultural Research (ISNAR) (closed in 2004) and the International Plant Genetic Research Institute (now called Bioversity International) and financial support from the Rockefeller Foundation. ILAC also received funds from the German International Development Cooperation (GIZ), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of The Netherlands.
In 2006, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of The Netherlands provided a grant that enabled ILAC to work on four main activities:
- developing applied research and evaluation methods
- supporting capacity development
- fostering leadership for pro-poor innovation
- strengthening communications and knowledge-sharing
In 2010, IFAD provided a further grant to enable ILAC to work on impact evaluation approaches for agricultural research for development, which allowed the developed of a project called BetterEvaluation, aiming to improve evaluation practice and theory by sharing information. BetterEvaluation is developed in partnership with the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT), Overseas Development Institute (ODI) and Pact, with funds from IFAD, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of The Netherlands, the Rockefeller Foundation through Pact and RMIT, and AusAID.
Since 2010, ILAC has changed its focus to support the CGIAR change process. Therefore, ILAC’s new strategy aimed to support the CGIAR Consortium, the CGIAR Research Programs (CRPs) and centres, the Fund Council and other stakeholders (in particular, the Global Forum on Agricultural Research, GFAR) in guiding the change process more effectively by:
- Helping to identify and develop i) new types of partnerships and new models of science; ii) monitoring systems to track these partnerships; and iii) new incentives that can be offered to researchers to increase the effectiveness of their participation in innovation networks.
- Implementing a process that will allow the Consortium, Directors-General (DGs), researchers and other stakeholders to think collectively about the niches the CGIAR should occupy, the types of partnerships it should engage in and the type of science it should conduct.
- Drawing lessons from past experiences of organizational change and learning in the CGIAR, private firms and non-profit organizations, and participating in change processes in the Consortium and its centres (e.g., assessing methodologies to foster organizational change and facilitate access to specialized information on organizational change).
Over the years, ILAC has developed important partnerships with organizations and individuals in various disciplines, including participatory research, impact assessment, evaluation and organizational learning. More information about its partners and collaborators can be found at http://www.cgiar-ilac.org/content/partners-and-collaborators. The approaches developed and tested in partnership with many regional and national partners include:
- facilitation of participatory decision-making
- preparation of innovation and institutional histories
- participatory evaluation
- establishing and managing learning alliances
- impact assessment
- developing collaborative agreements
- outcome mapping
These and other ILAC approaches have been outlined in a series of ILAC Briefs and working papers that will be relevant to ILAC’s future work. These publications include:
- Mayne, J. (2008). Building an evaluative culture for effective evaluation and results management. ILAC Brief No. 20. Rome: Institutional Learning and Change (ILAC) Initiative.
- Mayne, J. (2008). Contribution analysis: An approach to exploring cause and effect. ILAC Brief No. 16. Rome, Italy: Institutional Learning and Change (ILAC) Initiative.
- Mayne, J. (2012). Making causal claims, ILAC Brief No. 26. Rome: Institutional Learning and Change (ILAC) Initiative.
- Whitty, B. (2010) An accountability framework for technological innovation. ILAC Brief No. 24. Rome, Institutional Learning and Change (ILAC) Initiative
- Barahona, C. (2010). Randomised Control Trials for the Impact Evaluation of Development Initiatives: A Statistician’s Point of View. ILAC Working Paper No 13. Rome, Institutional Learning and Change Initiative.
- Ekboir, J. (2009). The CGIAR at a Crossroads: Assessing the role of international agricultural research in poverty alleviation from an innovation systems perspective. ILAC Working Paper 9. Rome, Institutional Learning and Change (ILAC) Initiative.
Lately ILAC engaged in a partnership with the CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas to produce a study on the research program network. The results of the study are documented in a report, and also a Brief.
- Ekboir, J., Canto, G.B. and Sette, C. (2013) Monitoring the composition and evolution of the research networks of the CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas (RTB). Series on Monitoring Research Networks No. 01. Rome, Institutional Learning and Change (ILAC) Initiative.
- Ekboir, J., Canto, G.B. and Sette, C. (2013) Monitoring the composition and evolution of the research networks of the CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas (RTB). ILAC Brief No. 27. Rome, Institutional Learning and Change (ILAC) Initiative.
These publications are available on the ILAC website (http://www.cgiar-ilac.org/content/ilac-publications)