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Monitoring and Measuring Change in Market Systems Image

Promoting Inclusive Markets and Financial Systems

Monitoring and Measuring Change in Market Systems - Rethinking the Current Paradigm

Monitoring and Measuring Change in Market Systems - Rethinking the Current Paradigm


As is widely experienced, markets are not static, but in constant flux. The changes are not predictable and often surprising, even after thorough market analysis and strategic planning. Our interventions turn out results that were either unforeseen or unanticipated. This type of behavior creates specific challenges for monitoring and evaluation of development interventions. Changes in markets must be monitored and measured using approaches that embrace their dynamic and unpredictable nature. Advances in complexity sciences can provide useful principles and concepts to build the foundations of more effective and relevant monitoring and evaluation frameworks for both market and financial systems.
This paper is a synthesis of the work of the Systemic Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) initiative of the SEEP Network between August and December 2012. The initiative, coordinated by MaFI (The Market Facilitation Initiative), brought together practitioners and academics to explore two issues:
  • The obstacles and challenges that field practitioners face when trying to monitor and evaluate changes in market systems using the current linear, top-down, rigid, mechanistic paradigm.
  • The principles and guidelines that can bring donors and practitioners together to build systemic M&E frameworks and tools that produce not only relevant evidence about their impacts on markets systems, but also appropriate and timely information for field practitioners to navigate the fast changing and unpredictable landscape of market systems.
Besides earlier and ongoing discussions on the LinkedIn group of the Market Facilitation Initiative (MaFI), the Systemic M&E Initiative specifically featured the following events:
  • A three-day e-consultation on USAID’s Microlinks platform, exploring cutting-edge thinking about effective ways to measure impacts of market and financial development interventions.
  • A webinar where four experienced speakers discussed systemic approaches from the perspective of their own work. They came from the practitioner, donor and academic communities and focused mainly on issues regarding field implementation and M&E, organizational learning, financial access and networks.
  • The opening plenary of the 2012 SEEP Annual Conference titled “Measuring Impact in Market Systems: Rethinking the Current Paradigm”. This plenary brought together practitioners and experts to explore cutting edge thinking and inquiry in effective ways to measure results of market and financial development interventions.
  • Two podcasts with experts in complexity thinking: David Snowden of Cognitive Edge and Shamim Bodhanya of the University of KwaZulu Natal. Snowden and Bodhanya talk about the challenges of dealing with complex adaptive systems and how we can master them by using approaches and tools from systems thinking and emerging approaches based on complexity sciences.
This paper is based on a discussion paper published in October that was intended to promote online and in-person discussions. It follows the structure of the earlier paper and enriches it with insights and quotes from the e-consultation, the webinar, the podcasts, and the opening plenary of the SEEP Annual Conference.

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