Collaborations, Connections, and Conversations: The Value of gLOCAL Evaluation Week
Sruti Srinivasan is a Senior Communications Associate at CLEAR/J-PAL South Asia. Sruti holds a Master’s degree in Media, Communications, and Development from the London School of Economics and Political Science and a Bachelor’s degree in Media and Communications from Manipal University.
It is that time again at GEI – the month where we start planning this year’s gLOCAL Evaluation Week.
gLOCAL Evaluation Week is a unique knowledge sharing event at a global scale, connecting a community of people across sectors and regions to share experiences and learn from each other on a vast assortment of topics and themes. One of the biggest strengths of gLOCAL is that it allows participants to think creatively about how their work fits in with, and informs, the larger ecosystems in their regions - and by extension, the global monitoring and evaluation (M&E) space. In essence, gLOCAL is a manifestation of a global movement - individuals and organizations who value the power of evidence-based decision-making.
gLOCAL Evaluation Week started in 2019 as a scale-up of EvalWeek, organized by the Center for Learning on Evaluation and Results for Latin America and the Caribbean (CLEAR LAC). With 177 event organizers across 38 countries, the inaugural gLOCAL drew widespread support from M&E stakeholders and quickly grew in popularity. In 2022, gLOCAL drew nearly 400 events from over 230 government, academic, private, and non-profit institutions.
We wanted to start off the year by sharing an interview about the value of gLOCAL conducted by one of GEI’s Implementing Partners, the Center for Learning on Evaluation and Results for South Asia (CLEAR SA). In South Asia, gLOCAL 2022 saw 41 events by 32 organizers from India, Pakistan, Philippines, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Australia, Fiji, and South Korea, with over 2000 global participants. There was a wide variety of events offered such as webinars, workshops, networking lunches, paper submissions, roundtable discussions, and presentations.
CLEAR SA spoke with the Good Business Lab (GBL), a not-for-profit labor innovation organization that uses rigorous research methods to find common ground between worker well-being and business interests. Their mission is to lead businesses to improve the lives of all workers by identifying workers’ needs, designing solutions, testing for well-being impact and financial returns, and driving the adoption of proven solutions.
Good Business Lab has been an active partner of gLOCAL Evaluation Week in South Asia since gLOCAL’s inception. GBL’s focus on rigorous research has led to a wide array of valuable insights on monitoring and evaluation, demonstrated by the breadth of topics examined at gLOCAL over the years. This past year, they explored how qualitative research can impact business outcomes (2022), while events in preceding years looked at misinformation and financial stress (2021), communication systems in the garment industry (2020), and M&E in the private sector (2019).
To understand the value of gLOCAL Evaluation Week for M&E knowledge sharing and building valuable connections, CLEAR SA spoke to Good Business Lab’s Rochak Jain, Satyavrat KK, and Shreya Batra:
The conversation has been lightly edited for clarity.
Q: Why is knowledge sharing important to GBL, and how has gLOCAL Evaluation Week supported your knowledge sharing goals?
We believe in making research more accessible. We believe that the work that we're doing is important, and that it's equally important to bring it to stakeholders outside of research. A lot of our work is done with workers in the formal economy, such as factories and manufacturing. We think it’s vital to bring our research to those who can benefit from our findings, such as policymakers, business leaders, HR organizations, factory management, etc.
Knowledge dissemination is a key part of GBL’s project life cycle. At the dissemination stage, we want to make our results as public as possible, and so we use various strategies – including in-person and digital.
We participated in gLOCAL for the first time in 2019 partly due to CLEAR/J-PAL South Asia’s brand names, and the caliber of the other partners and sessions that were present that year. Following our event, we managed to connect with a number of policymakers and other stakeholders who were interested in our work and have deeper conversations with them.
gLOCAL has evolved to become one of our most important events and has come to represent a very valuable networking opportunity because of the kind of people it attracts to events, whether that be policymakers, researchers, business enthusiasts, and even students. (Rochak adds that a GBL x gLOCAL webinar he attended as a student in 2020 was what got him really interested in the work he now does!)
Q: How has gLOCAL informed your work and interactions with key stakeholders, either through establishing or deepening collaboration, or facilitating feedback?
Through our continued engagement over the past four years, we’ve learned how to work collaboratively with partners to sew big picture insights from a project together/ A funder, research organization, and implementation partner talking about a project together helps us really refine our project’s narrative by placing the problem & solution clearly at a larger ecosystem level.
Each gLOCAL event has enhanced our understanding of our audience's perceptions and expectations, something that we, as researchers, so fervently desire. Audience questions have also helped us interrogate how we talk about a project and even brought up new potential areas of inquiry. Each year, we’ve used insights from past gLOCAL webinars, through both external and internal feedback, to host a more engaging session, and these learnings have also impacted GBL’s dissemination at large.
Q: How have your partners responded to gLOCAL?
That is also another aspect to gLOCAL that really stands out to us. As you know, a few projects that we've talked about are the worker voice tool, our return on investments tool, the financial inclusion project, etc. All of these projects were actually conducted with partners at different stages, for example UNFPA, IDInsight, and Shahi Exports.
gLOCAL really helps us strengthen those partnerships and take it beyond the project. It’s also a great value add from the partners perspective, because as a business, as a multilateral body, as a funder, as a research organization, they get to talk about the work that they’re doing and this work is of course overwhelmingly positive - it's great amplification.
Q: What has your experience been with gLOCAL and how do you see this partnership supporting your long-term knowledge dissemination goals?
Ultimately, we are involved in evidence-based research. Apart from the strength and complexity of the research itself, we're also trying to make a business case for some of the experiments that we’ve done. gLOCAL is very unique in that way, because it is an avenue where we can go directly to the target audience that we want to speak to. Year on year, we see increased and more substantial engagement with our work.
gLOCAL represents a shared community and a shared ethos. It provides us a very focused audience like decision makers, policy enthusiasts, etc. We have found gLOCAL to be one of the best channels for knowledge dissemination because we're really focusing and narrowing in on the audience that we want to speak to about our evidence. Because of our own USP - a little bit of a twist of the usual tale of a research organisation, this is a niche that we are trying to break into. This connection, specifically to these audiences, allows us also to get great feedback loops which can also be sustained. This feedback, in turn, informs our research.
GBL’s mission is not just to produce research that shows worker wellbeing is good for business, but also drive actions that make worker wellbeing happen. Talking about our research is a critical lever to pull, and gLOCAL has helped us achieve this to tap into a wide variety of people and organisations who believe in and align with our work.
This article is based off a blog that was first published in the CLEAR South Asia blog in January 2023.
Photo credit: Good Business Lab
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