GEI, CLEAR-FA Host Webinar on the Uneasy Marriage Between Decision-Making and Evidence

Webinar recording available: "Rationality, Irrationality, Reality: The Uneasy Marriage Between Decision-Making and Evidence. The webinar was organized by the Global Evaluation Initiative (GEI) and the Center for Learning on Evaluation and Results for Francophone Africa (CLEAR-FA), an implementing partner of GEI.
05 February 2024

How can we ensure that our policies and programs are based on reality and guided by evidence? How can monitoring and evaluation (M&E) systems promote a culture of evidence-based decision-making?

The Global Evaluation Initiative (GEI) and the Center for Learning on Evaluation and Results for Francophone Africa (CLEAR-FA), a GEI implementing partner, held a webinar on January 31 to discuss how policymaking can leverage data and evidence to make a real impact on people’s lives. Approximately 1,300 people registered for the event.

Studies show that decision-making processes sometimes ignore or distort what data and evidence are saying. Although decision-makers have access to critical information, certain biases and behaviors get in the way of rational thinking and diminish the ability to design policies that respond to evidence on the actual needs of citizens.

“Public decision-makers are human beings with their emotions and their objectives and their interests, and so their rationality is influenced fundamentally by several factors other than the availability and quality of evidence,” explained Antonin Dossou, former Minister of Evaluation Policy in Benin and one of the invited speakers.

Mohamed Dia, professor of Quantitative Methods and Operations Management at Laurentian University, discussed the factors that may prevent decision-makers from following evidence. These include cognitive biases, emotions, cultural and societal influences, and organizational pressures arising from time constraints, limited resources, and practices that favor group consensus over critical thinking (“groupthink”).

Ian Goldman, president of the International Evaluation Academy, emphasized the importance of putting mechanisms in place to raise awareness of and build trust in evidence; improve access to evidence and the ability to use it; and formalize the use of evidence. "These change mechanisms are necessary to provide policymakers with the motivation, capability, and opportunity they need to embrace evidence as an integral part of decision-making," he said.

According to Gonzalo Hernández Licona, director of the Multidimensional Poverty Network, countries need to invest in M&E systems since they provide the evidence and information that policymakers need to make the right decisions. Providing evidence that is credible, timely, easy to understand, and relevant to policymakers is among the levers he recommended for improving the use of evidence in policymaking.

The webinar was facilitated by CLEAR-FA Director Edoé Djimitri Agbodjan and hosted by GEI Communications and Knowledge Management Lead Patrizia Cocca. The webinar recording is available both in English and in French.



Portrait of Ian Goldman Ian Goldman is an international advisor on Evaluation/M&E and Evidence Systems. He is the president of the International Evaluation Academy and an adjunct professor at the Nelson Mandela School of Public Governance at the University of Cape Town in South Africa.


Portrait of Mohamed Dia Mohamed Dia is a professor of Quantitative Methods and Operations Management at Laurentian University in Canada.


Portrait of Antonin Sourou Dossou Antonin Sourou Dossou is a consultant for the Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO) and the former Minister of Policy Evaluation in Benin.


Portrait of Gonzalo Hernandez Licona Gonzalo Hernández Licona is currently the director of the Multidimensional Poverty Network at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. He also works with GEI as a policy advisor.


Portrait of Edoé Djimitri Agbodjan Edoé Djimitri Agbodjan is the coordinator of CLEAR-FA. He is among the center’s lead experts on strengthening national evaluation systems.


Portrait of Patrizia Cocca Patrizia Cocca is the GEI’s Communications and Knowledge Management Team Lead. She is a knowledge management expert and a communications strategist with extensive experience in the use of communication for behavioral change.