CEP - as a member of CECAN (the Centre for Evaluation of Complexity across the Nexus, based at the University of Surrey - undertook a meta-evaluation study of 23 selected evaluation projects we have undertaken relating to 'Nexus' issues – water, environment, food, energy - over the last 10 years and for a wide variety of clients.  The project was an intensive study over 4-5 months (July-November 2016).

The full report  - Learning lessons for evaluating complexity across the nexus: a meta-evaluation of CEP projects - is available here.

We evaluated the evaluation approaches and findings from a range of case studies – national and EU policy level down to programme level policy interventions and other initiatives – and sought to address three aims:
1.    To learn the lessons from past policy evaluations; 
2.    To understand the factors that support or inhibit (barriers or enablers to) successful evaluations: and
3.    To explore the value of different types of approaches and methods used for evaluating complexity

An important finding was the extent to which the contexts for evaluations at the EU level and UK levels differ: a very strong policy cycle exists for EU evaluations, which creates a more rigid framework for monitoring and evaluation, compared to the much greater degree of policy flux in the UK, and the resulting need for greater flexibility in the way in which evaluations are undertaken, and hence the greater utility of qualitative data collection and analysis methods.

Consequently the use or influence of evaluations in policy making differs considerably – there is much more instrumental (direct) use of EU evaluations compared to more conceptual or process (indirect) use of UK evaluations.

As part of our continuing involvement in CECAN (from March 2016-December 2018) Dr Clare Twigger-Ross is undertaking a CECAN Research Fellowship on Investigating the value of qualitative comparative analysis in relation to the Defra Flood Resilience Community Pathfinder (FRCP) evaluation. For further information on this see News.

For further information on CEP's work with CECAN contact Dr Bill Sheate (Technical Director) or Dr Clare Twigger-Ross (Technical Director)