A Reflection on Impact and Influence of CGIAR Policy-Oriented Research

Policy-oriented research (POR)—defined as research aimed at identifying new or improved policies, regulations, or institutions (or their management) that enhance economic, social, and environmental welfare—is an important and growing part of CGIAR portfolio. This paper assesses progress that has been made over the past decade to evaluate the welfare impacts of POR conducted within CGIAR. The paper’s first section reviews recent evaluative efforts and finds that little in the way of quantitative impact assessments has occurred since the publication of a set of quantitative ex post POR impact assessments in 2008. Rather, POR evaluations have taken a more qualitative emphasis, focusing on illuminating impact pathways and establishing the contribution of policy research toward effecting policy outcomes. This review also describes a recently-compiled database of 94 significant policy outcomes attributable to CGIAR policy research. In the second section of the paper, a theory of change is developed to illuminate POR’s role in the formulation—and ultimately, the impact—of agriculture- and food-related policies. The theory of change posits two phases to the process whereby POR might…