Lab Evaluation, Research, and Learning (ERL) Plan Question 1 Brief

QUESTION 1: What are the “best bet” investments for sustained uptake/ integration of Lab and STIP tools and approaches?

This Evidence Brief was produced as part of a series of outputs from the U.S. Global Development Lab’s Evaluation, Research, and Learning (ERL) Plan - a utilization-focused learning agenda supporting evidence-informed decision making in Lab operations and science, technology, innovation, and partnerships (STIP) programming. A process and set of products, the ERL Plan facilitated Lab learning and adaptation around four bureau-wide areas of inquiry: uptake of products, services, and approaches; adaptive management tools and practices; support to awardees and partners; and sustainability of results.

Insights from the ERL Plan are shared here as a record of emerging opportunities for evidence-based adaptation that could be acted on by USAID and other development actors. This work also contributes to the evidence base for the Agency-wide Self-Reliance Learning Agenda - an effort to support USAID as it reorients its strategies, partnership models, and program practices to achieve greater development outcomes and foster self-reliance with host country governments and our partners.



The concept of “scaling and scaling-up” in the development sector is receiving increased attention due to a greater desire to ensure the effective use of
development funds and use evidence to design and implement interventions. Scaling offers the potential to increase the impact and scope of development results in a sustained manner without additional, ongoing outside resources while supporting the drive toward self-reliance and local ownership in aid-receiving countries. The term “scaling” can have different meanings for different audiences. For the purposes of the Lab’s ERL Plan, we define it broadly to include: expansion of a particular model, technology, or intervention (through public- and/or private- sector actors); acceleration of that expansion; and/or institutionalization within an organization or ecosystem.

Successful scaling attempts require strong evidence in favor of the scaling model or idea. The type and strength of evidence required to press ‘go’ on a particular scaling approach will likely be a judgment call by relevant stakeholders due to their varying risk tolerances and the diverse array of factors that can influence success. Successful scaling rarely follows an exact formula; it requires careful consideration of many factors in making decisions related to scaling-up efforts. Due to financial and human resource constraints, the findings, conclusions, and recommendations in tis brief are drawn from a limited sample of the academic literature on scaling, as well as select Lab evaluation outputs, including those from the Sustained Uptake Developmental Evaluation (USAID 2018a-e). 


Thursday, January 16, 2020 - 3:15pm

Last updated: January 24, 2020