DG TIG Week: Developing a Collaboration Tool to Assess Collective Action Coalitions by Martina Hrvolova and Elizabeth Lenz Jedwab

Hi – we are Martina Hrvolova and Elizabeth Lenz Jedwab, part of the program teams for Europe and Eurasia at the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE). As a democracy organization, we see collective action coalitions as natural partners for us in many countries. After spending more time with these groups, we found we needed a tool that would allow us to assess the capacity of our coalition partners and build shared ownership over the coalitions’ goals and actions.

Lessons Learned: CIPE has learned that while high capacity is not necessarily a prerequisite to getting started as a coalition, it IS required for effective collective action because change tends to take time. We approached our evaluation team and together discovered that while there is research on coalition effectiveness and innovations in assessing capacity of individual NGOs and associations using the “5 C’s Capacity To” framework, there was no meaningful existing tool for coalitions. To fill this gap, we collaborated with our evaluation team to develop and pilot a new diagnostic tool for coalitions in spring 2017.

The CIPE “Capacity to” Collaboration Tool, which draws upon 14 functional areas of collaboration, eight stages of collaboration maturity and the “5 C’s,” outlines ten dimensions of coalition capacity built around three basic collective action steps: establishing a coalition, building support, and making the change. The results are calculated interactively based on the self-ratings of coalition members and their confidence in the scores they give themselves. An external facilitator guides the process.

To pilot the tool, we took on the facilitator role ourselves. In Albania, where CIPE worked with a coalition of 11 reform-minded business support organizations (the National Business Forum) to develop a common platform for economic reform through public-private participation, the implementation of the tool sparked a vivid discussion on coalition’s sustainability. In Armenia, we employed the tool with the Business Advocacy Network, a coalition of 18 organizations that advocates on behalf of 3,000 Armenian companies. As a result, the Network identified three priority areas for internal capacity building, which later formed the basis of a strategic plan. In both pilot cases, we were able to assist CIPE’s partners in developing comprehensive roadmaps for successful coalitions while preserving local ownership, fostering sustainable democratic participation and impact.

Hot Tips:

  • Start with social science theory for construct validity on collective action coalition effectiveness.
  • Use participatory evaluation to ensure that the tool itself incorporates stakeholder input.
  • Build on practice knowledge by bringing together internal regional program and other experts with experience in successful and failed coalition efforts.
  • Work with evaluators to define the requirements for good measurement (validity and reliability).
  • Design the draft tool collaboratively with joint program and evaluation teams.
  • Use a facilitator to assist coalitions as they work to reach a common understanding and build consensus on critical areas for improvement.
  • Pilot and revise based on participant feedback.

Interested in the tool? Contact the development team’s leader: Denise Baer, Ph.D., Director, Evaluation Department, E-mail: DBaer@cipe.org

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Democracy & Governance TIG Week with our colleagues in the Democracy & Governance Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our DG TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on theaea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by theAmerican Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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