A new article in the American Journal of Evaluation—the flagship journal of the American Evaluation Association—provides a comprehensive review of the literature on evaluation capacity building (ECB). As the field continues to grow, it will be built on knowledge gleaned from past work. In this article, co-written by Abt’s Sebastian Lemire, the authors aim to answer three questions to better understand the state of the art of ECB:
- What types of articles and themes comprise the current literature on ECB?
- How are current practices of ECB described in the literature?
- What is the current status of research on ECB?
Taking stock of the past 20 years, the authors found that the majority of published ECB interventions are in the fields of public health and education. The public health cases were typically implemented by government agencies, non-profits, and community-based organizations, while the education interventions were conducted primarily by K-12 schools or universities, as may be expected. The authors also found that most case applications were intended to grow the evaluation capacity of frontline staff. Also, among the findings, most ECB interventions delivered mixed results, with a lack of resources typically cited as impediments.