Based in New York, Andrew Fyfe is Head of Evaluation at the UN Capital Development Fund which works to unlock public and private finance to people living in the world’s least-developed countries. He is responsible for external evaluations, for embedding evaluation within the organisation’s programme cycle and for developing new evaluation tools - including for better measurement of policy and programmatic performance.
He is currently studying for the University of Bath Institute for Policy Research (IPR) Doctorate in Policy Research and Practice (DPRP) and spoke to us about his career and experience on the programme so far.
Choosing to study
I have always enjoyed the process of formal study and felt that that there was much in the various research literatures that could inform my professional practice of international development evaluation, including importantly how to understand different schools and approaches to evaluation.
I was also motivated to advance my skills as a social science researcher, building on earlier Masters’ level study, with a view to strengthen my ability to conduct my own research as well as better manage independent researchers which is a big part of my job.
Researching international development evaluation
My primary research focus is the policy and practice of international development evaluation in the era of the Sustainable Development Goals. I am looking specifically at the organisational and system-level processes by which norms and codes of professional practice emerge in the international development evaluation system, with a particular focus on international aid to the private sector.
This is a very interesting area of international public policy to explore as it can be looked at using so many different research angles and literatures: international public administration, critical development management, professional evaluation as a community of practice itself, and the always fascinating area of theories of knowledge applied to international public policy.
Being part of the IPR
My experience of the DPRP so far has more than matched my expectations. Even if it has proven at times challenging to find time alongside a demanding full-time job to advance with my studies, I have gained enormously from the programme and the support of my supervisors. I have become much more knowledgeable about my area of professional work as well as more confident in navigating a very rich and diverse research literature around the practice of evaluation.
Frequent engagement with my doctoral supervisors has only increased my respect for the depth of knowledge and the range of intellectual approaches that academic specialists in the IPR and across the University of Bath bring to my subject area. I also enjoy using the University’s library, which in its online form, offers access to an incredible and limitless treasure trove of knowledge and original thinking on the topic that I am working on.
Finally, I have enjoyed interacting with student colleagues from all over the world who are often at very different stages of their career. Truly, the DPRP student body is a living example of the concept of life-long learning.
As I started this programme mid-way through my professional life, I plan to use the learning from my degree to continue to advance in my career as an international public sector evaluator, or perhaps return to consultancy and research later in life.
One challenge going forward will be to see how to maintain access to the university library as it is going to be very hard in future to live and work without it!