In this podcast, Nalia Kabeer talks about her work, criticising the way in which Randomized Control Trials (RCTs) is adopted as a sole form of impact assessment. At the beginning of the talk, she briefly describes The Ultra Poor Project (the context of her study), RCTs and its critiques (such as lack of acknowledgement of human agency, heterogeneity, and social context); also, the problem that most RCTs practitioners do not allow for qualitative research conducted in an integrated way as it might cause their studies “being contaminated.” In her research which her team conducted qualitative research independently within the RCT-conducted pilots, it finds that this methodological-individualistic quantitative foundation of this practice leads to some serious flaws that undermine its establishing causality and explanation. She concludes that to address the problem of poverty, the evaluation needs to provide information that explains their findings; the mixed methods of quantitative and qualitative studies are suggested.
The talk is well organised such that the concept and critiques of Randomised Control Trials (RCTs), as well as her study, can be understood easily. It sheds light upon limitations of methodologies often employed by mainstream development economists/practitioners and adds contribution to the field by suggesting the way that might help to overcome this limitation.