State of Evaluation Research in International Development: A RAND Perspective

Garment workers in Bangladesh receive fire safety training

Photo by Solidarity Center for USAID


Tom Ling
Senior Research Leader and Head of Evaluation, RAND Europe


Thursday, April 26, 2018


noon to 1:00 p.m. PDT
3:00 to 4:00 p.m. EDT


RAND Corporation
1776 Main Street
Santa Monica, CA
(and by videoconference to RAND's Washington office)


Many international development interventions are often believed to achieve long‐term impacts, but evidence of such impacts is often not available. Most program evaluations focus on short‐term outcomes because of rigid program cycles, political infeasibility, unreliable funding streams for monitoring and evaluation, and changes in programmatic priorities.

Tom Ling will share insights from his more than 20 years of experience delivering robust and practical insights for partners such as DFID, UNICEF, Save the Children, the UK National Health Service (NHS) and the European Commission. He will speak about the delivery of high quality embedded evaluations that can be utilized to provide ongoing improvement to services. Tom will discuss the evolving role of evaluations for donors and other partners as well as the intersection between innovation, partnerships and evaluation in international development. He will provide a uniquely RAND perspective to discuss aspects of evaluation research and implementation that have changed over the years, the problems that remain, and the opportunities that lie ahead. He will also discuss how to build effective partnerships with various stakeholders, especially in terms of communicating the importance of evaluations.


Tom Ling is Senior Research Leader and Head of Evaluation at RAND Europe. He is currently working on an evaluation of measures to achieve the abandonment of FGM in Sudan, and has worked on projects reviewing programs and strategies for DFID and UNICEF, examining system strengthening and resilience with Save the Children (2012-14), the evaluation of the Emergency Education Response Program implemented by UNICEF in Jordan (2014-16).

He has had international experience in Africa, Asia and the Middle East and he led the Quality Assurance review on the Evaluation of child labor-free zone, collecting data from 7 countries (Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Ghana, Morocco, India) to measure the effectiveness of the UK’s aid activity (2015). He has published widely on evaluation, accountability and related topics. He recently co-edited Performance Audit: Contributing to Accountability in Democratic Government (London: Edward Elgar), following his Performance Audit Handbook and The Evidence Book, a critical examination of the use of evidence in public policy and service delivery.

Ling's roles outside RAND Europe include a professorship (Emeritus) at Anglia Ruskin University, and he is a PI with the Behavior and Health Research Unit at the University of Cambridge and a member of the Cambridge Centre for Health Service Research.

He will be speaking from the Santa Monica office.

About IDSS

The International Development Speaker Series is a student-led initiative sponsored by Pardee RAND Graduate School and several RAND research units: RAND Labor and Population, RAND International, RAND Health, RAND Education, and RAND Justice, Infrastructure, and Environment.

Learn more about the International Development Speaker Series