Evidence Base for Collaborating, Learning, and Adapting
A Summary of the Literature Review
The literature confirms our collective experience that it is difficult to measure the CLA's impact or contribution on organizational effectiveness and development outcomes. Strengthening the evidence base around CLA's contribution is a key area for further research. We began the literature review by identifying and searching for keywords from the CLA framework. Recognizing that CLA is a construct used within USAID and among its stakeholders, the literature review also includes concepts beyond those found within the framework. After identifying keywords, researchers looked for summaries of existing grey and academic literature and prioritized articles related to the international development field. Additional resources were included based on relevant source references and continued keyword searches. Articles were organized according to the CLA framework in an annotated, searchable database with summaries of research methodologies and primary findings, and links to full articles, where possible.
Overall, we found no comprehensive review of the evidence base on the effect or impact of CLA on development outcomes. However, there are discrete pieces of evidence pointing to the importance of collaborating, learning, and/or adapting on both development outcomes and organizational effectiveness. There are also some examples of a more systematic approach to organizational learning in the private sector (for example, Southwest, Ford Lean Manufacturing, Motorola Sigma, and so on), and how these approaches have impacted the effectiveness of these organizations. Difficulties in measurement are the main reason for the lack of comprehensive evidence about CLA's impact on organizational effectiveness and development. These challenges include Measurement, Attribution, Aggregation.
The literature predominantly reinforces the components and subcomponents found in the CLA framework. However, leadership is treated in some of the literature as an independent factor that significantly enables CLA in organizations. Several international development organizations and donors were found in the literature on CLA and development outcomes. While they are not specifically measuring CLA's impact on development, they are focusing on activities and ideas that are closely aligned with CLA such as feedback loops, knowledge management systems, learning culture, and so on. The literature indicates that CLA's impact on or contribution to organizational effectiveness and development outcomes is difficult to measure. Further, we could find no existing research that examines collaborating, learning, and adapting holistically, or looks directly at the combined effects of these approaches.