Participation denied: The professional boundaries of monitoring and evaluation in international development

Rebecca Warne Peters

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Monitoring and evaluation (M&E) of international development programming is expected to produce "evidence-based" insight for both policy and practice. While supportive of evidence-based decision making, critics of contemporary M&E practice charge that it reflects the development industry's deepening audit culture, causing deleterious effects. I offer the example of a democratization program in postwar Angola to examine how the design and conduct of M&E in this case reinforced social boundaries and hierarchies of power among the program's own staff members. These professional staff hierarchies effectively barred ground-level evidence noted by implementation agents from being incorporated into the program's formal knowledge base. The case demonstrates that monitoring and evaluation procedures within development programs, and perhaps in other bureaucracies, must be examined for their social uses and effects among practitioners. These effects not only weaken the production of actionable knowledge for development but, by reinforcing social inequalities within the very industry tasked to combat them, also structurally threaten the endeavor.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)315-325
Number of pages11
JournalHuman Organization
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016


  • International development
  • International non-governmental organizations
  • Local staff
  • Monitoring and evaluation
  • Program implementation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • General Social Sciences


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