Capacity, Change and Performance
Heather Baser and Peter Morgan, Joe Bolger, Derick Brinkerhoff, Anthony Land, Suzanne Taschereau
April 2008 – Synthesis
The European Centre for Development Policy Management (ECDPM)
Available online PDF [163p.] at:
The purposes of the study were:
• to enhance understanding of the interrelationships among capacity, change and performance across a wide range of development experiences; and
• to provide general recommendations and frameworks to support the effectiveness of external interventions aimed at improving capacity and performance.
The study was thus intended to provide some new perspectives on capacity issues.
First, it was to use an endogenous perspective of capacity – how capacity develops from within – rather than looking only at what outsiders, usually international agencies, can do to induce it. This implied considering external contributions as only an influence rather than the entry point of the research.
Second, the study was to bring in ideas from the capacity literature beyond that produced by the international development community.
Third, the study was to provide evidence of good practice in developing capacity.
The chapters and their contents are as follows:
• Chapter 1 – the introduction – provides an overview of the context in which the study was developed, its original objectives and an outline
of some of the major themes covered. It ends with the preview of the themes coming out of the report.
• Chapter 2 – the methodology – presents the original analytical framework and some of the key issues we addressed in the research.
• Chapter 3 – the concept of capacity –its components: competencies and capabilities.
• Chapter 4 – the actors – looks at the structure, mandate and identity of the actors in the cases (groups, sub-units of organisations,
formal and informal networks) who shape the process of capacity development.
• Chapter 5 – the context of capacity and capacity development – assesses the influence of context and its interactions with capacity,
and stakeholder demand or support.
• Chapter 6 – capacity development – is the core of the report with a discussion of the different ways to think about capacity development
and what works why and when. It looks at the different conditions under which capacity development takes place, then at various
strategies for change, both internal and external. It ends with a discussion of the processes of capacity development including different
approaches (such as planning and control, emergence or incrementalism), the issue of sequencing, and the importance of time and timing.
• Chapter 7 – capacity, performance and results – analyses the interrelationships between performance and results, and the tension
between two approaches to change: one that concentrates on ‘results’ or task achievement and one that focuses on the capacity
development. It finishes with a discussion of the implications of applying results-based management with its focus on achievement to
• Chapter 8 – tools and frameworks – suggests how we might think about two major techniques used to address capacity issues,
capacity assessments and monitoring and evaluation (M&E), in the light of the findings presented earlier in the report.
• Chapter 9 – the contribution of external interveners – addresses what external groups or organisations can do to strengthen the capacity
of others and whether current approaches to capacity development by external actors are ‘good enough’ or need rethinking.
• Chapter 10 – future trends in capacity development – looks at possible challenges in the future for external actors trying to influence
capacity development, including seeing capacity as a strategic objective, and the rise of a new generation of actors.
• Chapter 11 – selected conclusions – presents some insights beyond what appeared in the previous analysis, and then returns to the
question raised at the beginning of the report: ‘Is there inherent value in the concept of capacity?’ It also provides some general
recommendations for external interveners to help them think about how to address capacity and capacity development.
The case studies
SISDUK, a participatory development programme in Takalar District, South Sulawesi, Indonesia
COEP – Committee of Entities in the Struggle against Hunger and for a Full
The role of churches in governance and public performance,
The Health Sector Support Programme (HSSP),
Decentralised education service delivery,
Decentralised education service delivery,
A comparative analysis of decentralised education service delivery in
The Environmental Action (ENACT) programme, Jamaica
The Environment and Sustainable Development Unit (ESDU), Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS),
The Observatório network,
The World Conservation Union, IUCN in
Local Government Support Programme (LGSP), the
The Centre for Trade Policy and Law (CTPL),
The Public Sector Reform Programme (PSRP),
The National Action Committee
Full reports of the case studies are available at www.ecdpm.org/capacitystudy
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