On 10 December IDEAS had the pleasure of leading one of several launches of the eagerly awaited and highly relevant book, Randomized Control Trials in the Field of Development: a critical perspective. RCTs are highly controversial in the field of development due to what many consider the unwarranted hype that has surrounded their “second wave” entry into the field of evaluation over the past 15 years – a wave that has drawn billions of dollars and intellectual energy in the Global South into a methodology that can serve only a small percentage of development efforts, and that ironically not been used on a significant scale by any country that has successfully escaped its poverty trap. This issue is important to all interested in helping to shape the field of evaluation, and of development.
The 26 authors come from an impressive array of disciplines. They include two recipients of the Economics ‘Nobel’ prize – the ‘Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel’ – as well as development evaluation guru and widely acknowledged “father of IDEAS”, Robert (Bob) Picciotto. More than 450 persons registered for the webinar, indicating the prominence of the methodology and the debates that have surrounded its use. The discussion highlighted some strengths but primarily drew attention to the multiple weaknesses that come to the fore in the application of RCTs in development practice, and there was wide appreciation for the distinguished panel of speakers moderated by IDEAS Vice-President, Zenda Ofir.
You can also read and discuss the Panel responses to questions not addressed during the Launch event.