By Others

The effectiveness of multi-stakeholder platforms (MSPs) remains poorly understood, particularly in relation to their intended purpose and goals, and relative to other approaches to achieve these goals. This is, at least in part, due to the difficulty of assessing MSP effectiveness in a meaningful and robust way.

In response, this Guidance Paper sets out how MSPs can better use existing and new evidence and processes to assess their system-change role. It comes from experiences with four agri-food MAPs. The reflections generated are intended to act as a vital input to strategic decision-making by those involved.

Starting point for assessment is a clear theory of change (ToC) setting out MSP goals, intermediate results that are expected to contribute to these goals, and assumptions regarding these pathways. Progress is monitored by combining the ToC with evidence and analysis to develop ‘contribution stories’ that act as snap-shot narratives. They are a reasoned discussion of why and how changes are happening, considering the plausibility of the role or ‘contribution’ of the MSP to these outcomes, alongside other factors.

This guidance presents as four steps for assessing effectiveness, plus six tips or lessons for putting these steps into practice. Armed with this guidance, MSPs should become more deliberate in their own thinking, and in their engagement with stakeholders regarding how they are catalysing change over time.

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