The What Works Marketplace: Helping Leaders Use Evidence to Make Smarter Choices

04/10/2015 |

Summary

To better understand what it takes for leaders to use evidence in making critical decisions, Results for America, in consultation with The Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative (Results First), commissioned The Bridgespan Group to study the "market" for evidence on effectiveness—specifically, what is the current state of the market? What can be done to strengthen it? And who must lead it?

As a nation, we owe it to all citizens to invest our resources in the most effective solutions to the social problems we face. But the challenges involved in measuring effective programs, and the absence of a “marketplace” for such information present real barriers to advancing our reliance on programs that work.

Identifying the most effective solutions to social problems—whether in education, health, or housing—isn’t easy. Few interventions have been rigorously evaluated. Fewer are proven to have positive results. In fact, most evaluations show mixed results. Therefore, determining whether an intervention works is not black and white.

As knowledge about what works grows, what’s missing is a developed marketplace where policy makers, funders, and practitioners can turn for the latest information about what works and what doesn’t. They need that information not just to make the best choices, but to learn where more innovation and evaluation is needed most.

To better understand the current state of this marketplace for evidence and what needs to be done to strengthen it, Results for America, in consultation with The Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative (Results First), commissioned The Bridgespan Group to conduct a study. The result is The What Works Marketplace: Helping Leaders to Use Evidence to Make Smarter Choices.

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Follow the links below to download individual sections of The What Works Marketplace: Helping Leaders Use Evidence to Make Smarter Choices.

Table of Contents 

Executive Summary

  • Key findings
  • Recommendations
  • Moving forward

Introduction

  • A marketplace focused on learning and continuous improvement
  • Methodology
  • Defining a common language

Key Finding #1—Supply: A Long Supply Chain

  • Many steps
  • Many players
  • Many clearinghouses

Key Finding #2—Demand: A Diverse Group of Users and Needs

  • Several different types of users
  • A variety of needs for different users, but some key consistencies

Key Finding #3—Market Gaps: A Market with Growing Pains

  • A growing market heading in the right direction
  • Six gaps that remain in the market
    • Gap 1: Comprehensiveness
    • Gap 2: Implementation
    • Gap 3: Guidance
    • Gap 4: Synthesis
    • Gap 5: Usability
    • Gap 6: Awareness

Recommendations: Opportunities to Strengthen the Market

Strengthen supply
  1. Increase the number of studies on interventions available
  2. Increase the amount of information on interventions available
  3. Increase the types of reviews available, not only reviews of single interventions
Build demand
  1. Increase awareness of sources for evidence on effectiveness, particularly through existing networks
  2. Reduce barriers to use of clearinghouses
  3. Guide decision makers through the selection process
Develop infrastructure
  1. Establish common standards
  2. Increase coordination among suppliers
  3. Build a vibrant adviser market

Conclusion

Acknowledgments

Appendices

  • Appendix 1: List of organizations interviewed
  • Appendix 2: Current efforts to develop and inform a common evidence framework
  • Appendix 3: Landscape of clearinghouses
  • Appendix 4: Web analytics for information sources
  • Appendix 5: US-focused clearinghouses by domain
  • Appendix 6: Comprehensiveness of clearinghouses
  • Appendix 7: Intervention-specific information captured systematically on clearinghouses
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