The Seeming Simplicity of Measurement*

  • Chris RocheEmail author
Part of the Library of Ethics and Applied Philosophy book series (LOET, volume 23)


The key issue this chapter tries to address relates to a challenge raised by Keith Horton’s chapter “The Epistemic Problem: Potential Solutions”, this volume in response to Peter Singer’s proposition (1999) that the rich have a moral obligation to assist the world’s poor and therefore should give a reasonable proportion of their income to those agencies whose aim it is to alleviate poverty and suffering. Horton’s challenge is that surely this moral obligation only applies if those in a position to give some of their income in this way have some ability to satisfy themselves that the agency or agencies to which they might give, are able to demonstrate the net effect of their work is good enough to imply that we should give to them. He goes on to argue that it is in fact very difficult for those who are not experts on aid to find out what the effects of aid actually are; this he calls the ‘Epistemic Problem’.


Moral Obligation Advocacy Work Epistemic Problem Private Sector Company Humanitarian Sector 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. ALNAP. accessed 1 July 2007.
  2. Bonbright, D. 2007. The Changing Face of Accountability. Talk at the International Seminar on Civil Society and Accountability, Montevideo, 16 Apr.Google Scholar
  3. BOND. 2006. A BOND Approach to Quality in Non-Governmental Organisations: Putting Beneficiaries First. Report by Keystone and Account Ability for the British Overseas NGOs for Development (BOND).Google Scholar
  4. Braden, S.. 1998. Video for Development a Casebook from Vietnam. Oxford: Oxfam.Google Scholar
  5. Burgis, T. and S. Zadek. 2006. Reinventing Accountability for the 21st Century, Account Ability, London.Google Scholar
  6. California Endowment. 2005. The Challenge of Assessing Policy and Advocacy Activities: Strategies for a Prospective Evaluation Approach. Los Angeles, CA: The California Endowment.Google Scholar
  7. Chapman, J. and A. Wameyo. 2001. Monitoring and Evaluating Advocacy: A Scoping Study. Lima: Preval, Scholar
  8. Chowdhury, N., C. Finlay-Notman, and I. Hovland. 2006. CSO Capacity for Policy Engagement: Lessons Learned from the CSPP Consultations in Africa, Asia and Latin America, Working Paper 272, Overseas Development Institute, London.Google Scholar
  9. Collinson, S., M. Bhatia, M. Evans, R. Fanthorpe, J. Goodhand, and J. Stephen. 2002. Politically Informed Humanitarian Programming: Using a Political Economy Approach, HPN Paper 41. London: Overseas Development Institute.Google Scholar
  10. Cooperrider, D. Accessed 1 July 2007.
  11. Crawford, P. 2005. Aiding Aid: a Monitoring and Evaluation Framework to Enhance International Aid Effectiveness. PhD thesis, University of Sydney.Google Scholar
  12. Crocker, D.. 1996. Hunger, capability and development. In World Hunger and Moral Obligation, eds. A. William and L. Hugh. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, NJ, place, reprinted in Hugh Lafollette (ed.) Ethics in Practice, Routledge, 2nd Ed.Google Scholar
  13. Davies, R.. 1996. An Evolutionary Approach to Facilitating Organisational Learning: An Experiment by the Christian Commission for Development in Bangladesh. Swansea: Centre for Development Studies.Google Scholar
  14. Davies, R. and J. Dart. 2005. The Most Significant Change’ (MSC) Technique: A Guide to Its Use, MandE News, Cambridge.
  15. Davis, A.. 2007. Concerning Accountability of Humanitarian Action, HPN Paper 58. London: Overseas Development Institute.Google Scholar
  16. Denning, S. Accessed 1 July 2007.
  17. Easterly, W.. 2006. The White Man’s Burden. London: Penguin Press.Google Scholar
  18. Edwards, M.. 1996. International Development NGOs: Legitimacy, Accountability, Regulation and Roles. London: Commission on the Future of the Voluntary Sector.Google Scholar
  19. Fukuyama, F.. 2004. State Building: Governance and World Order in the 21st Century. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Galtung, J.. 1969. Violence, peace and peace research. Journal of Peace Research 6(3): 167–191.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Global Voices. Accessed 1 July 2007.
  22. Goold, E.. 2006. Working with Barriers to Organisational Learning. London: BOND.Google Scholar
  23. HAP. Accessed I July 2007.
  24. Harmer, A. and J. Mcrae. 2004. Beyond the Continuum: The Changing Role of Aid Policy in Protracted Crises, HPG Report 18. London: Overseas Development Institute.Google Scholar
  25. Hilhorst, D.. 2005. Dead letter or living document? Ten years of the code of conduct for disaster relief. Disasters 29(4): 351–369.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Hirschman, A.. 1970. Exit, Voice, Loyalty: Responses to the Decline in Firms, Organisations and States. Harvard: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  27. Horton, K.. 2004. Aid and bias. Inquiry 47(6): 545–561.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Howard, R.. 2007. Where anti-Arab prejudice and oil make the difference. Guardian Wednesday 16 May.Google Scholar
  29. IFRC. 1994. Code of Conduct for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and NGOs in Disaster Relief. Geneva: International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. Scholar
  30. IFRC. 2003. World Disaster Report 2003. Bloomfield, NJ: Kumarian Press.Google Scholar
  31. Jordan, L., van Tuijl, P. eds. 2006. NGO Accountability: Politics, Principles & Innovations. London: Earthscan.Google Scholar
  32. Kruse, S.-E., T. Kyllonen, S. Ojanpera R. Riddell (1997), Searching for Impact and Methods: NGO Evaluation Synthesis Study. Report prepared for the OECD/DAC Expert Group on Evaluation. Helsinki: Department for International Development Cooperation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs.Google Scholar
  33. Masud, N. and B. Yontcheva. 2005. Does Foreign Aid Reduce Poverty? Empirical Evidence from Nongovernmental and Bilateral Aid, IMF working paper WP/05/100, 20. Washington, DC: IMF.Google Scholar
  34. Medecin Sans Frontieres. Accessed 1 July 2007.
  35. Monk, P. 2007. Fantasy, Paranoia, Enthusiasm and Reality. Griffith Review Ed 16:Unintended Consequences.Google Scholar
  36. National Audit Office. 2006. Working with Non-Governmental and other Civil Society Organisations to Promote Development. London: Department for International Development.Google Scholar
  37. Newell, P. and J. Wheeler. 2006. Rights, Resources and the Politics of Accountability. London: Zed Books.Google Scholar
  38. One World Trust. 2006. Global Accountability Report. London: One World Trust.
  39. Oxfam GB. 2007. Oxfam Blogs. Oxford: Oxfam. Accessed 1 July 2007.Google Scholar
  40. Patton, M.. 1997. Utilization-Focused Evaluation: The New Century Text, 3rd edn. London: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  41. Pretty, J.. 1994. Alternative systems of inquiry for a sustainable agriculture. IDS Bulletin 25(2): 37–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Riddell, R.. 1984. Foreign Aid Reconsidered. London: James Currey/Overseas Development Institute.Google Scholar
  43. Riddell, R. 1990. Judging Success: Evaluating NGO Approaches to Alleviating Poverty in Developing Countries, Working Paper No. 37, Overseas Development Institute, LondonGoogle Scholar
  44. Riddell, R.. 2007. Does Foreign Aid Really Work? Oxford: OUP.Google Scholar
  45. Riddell, R.C. and M. Robinson 1992. The Impact of NGO Poverty Alleviating Projects: Results of the Case Studies. Working Paper No.68, Overseas Development Institute, London.Google Scholar
  46. Roche, C.. 1999. Impact Assessment for Development Agencies. Oxford: Oxfam GB.Google Scholar
  47. Roche, C., N. Kasynathan, and P. Gowthaman. 2005. Bottom-up Accountability and the Tsunami. Paper prepared for the International Conference on Engaging Communities, Brisbane, 14–17 Aug.Google Scholar
  48. Roche, C. and L. Kelly. 2003. Evaluating the Performance of Development Agencies: Perspectives from NGO Experience. Paper for World Bank Conference on Evaluating Effectiveness; Challenges and the Way ForwardGoogle Scholar
  49. SPHERE. 2004. Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Disaster Response.,English/. Accessed 1 July 2007.
  50. Singer, P. 1999. The Singer Solution to World Poverty,˜teuber/singermag.html. Accessed 13 June 2007.
  51. Slim, H.. 1997. Doing the right thing. Disasters 21(3): 244–257, Sep.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Slim, H.. 2003.  Chapter 1 . In World Disasters Report 2003. Bloomfield, NJ: IFRC, Kumarian Press.Google Scholar
  53. Slim, H. 2005. Idealism and Realism in Humanitarian Action. Talks given at the ACFID Humanitarian Forum, Canberra, 5 Oct.Google Scholar
  54. Telford, J., J. Cosgrave, and R. Houghton. 2006. Joint Evaluation of the International Response to the Indian Ocean Tsunami: Synthesis Report. London: Tsunami Evaluation Coalition, Accessed 13 June 2007.Google Scholar
  55. Vaux, T. 2002. The Selfish Altruist: Relief Work in War Famine and War. London: Earthscan.Google Scholar
  56. Wallace, T. and J. Chapman. 2006. An Investigation into the Reality Behind NGO Rhetoric of Downward Accountability. Oxford: INTRAC, Accessed 13 June 2007.Google Scholar
  57. World Bank. 2003. Toward Country-Led Development: A Multi-Partner Evaluation of the Comprehensive Development Framework, Washington, DC.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Oxfam AustraliaCarltonAustralia

Personalised recommendations