What is ImpresS?

Since 2013, Cirad engaged in a reflection on the impact of its research, with the ambition to go beyond impact promise and develop a real institutionnal impact culture, within CIRAD and with its partner institutions. This culture is based on a better understanding of the complex innovation processes at stake in research interventions and an improvement of their impact in the longer run.

After a report on the state of the art (January 2011) and the completion of four exploratory case studies (Report-May 2013), CIRAD launched an "Innovation-Impact Taskforce" which began its work in January 2014. The resources allocated to this project are substantial (management team, part-time researchers, masters interns and operational funds). Since mid-2015, the acronym ImpresS (Impact of Research in South/Impact des recherches au Sud) chosen to name this method has been used to talk about the whole project. From March 2015 to March 2016, the ImpresS ex post method has been tested through 13 case studies representing a variety of innovations and contexts, 7 of them being co-managed with a scientific partner from the south. In 2017, CIRAD lead an iterative process involving different stages, based on the ImpresS ex post lessons but also based on literature and workshops in France and abroad (Senegal, Costa Rica, Burkina Faso, Madagascar, Tunisia and Peru), that tested and validated the ImpresS ex ante approach.

The ImpresS team and partners have developed principles and tools to mainstream impact culture both before and after their research for development interventions:

  • The ImpresS ex post method enables researchers to better understand the innovation process triggered by their interventions and their impacts. This method has two main particularities: being participatory, as major actors are involved in the analysis of the intervention impacts. Moreover, this approach enhances the learning processes and capacity strengthening between the different actors (researchers, farmers, producer organizations …).
  • The ImpresS ex ante approach supports the formulation of a common vision and plausible impact pathway of an intervention, taking impact into account since the conception of research for development interventions.This ImpresS ex ante approach consists on building hypothetical but plausible impact pathways, focusing first on the crucial step of the outcome generation (outcomes being the appropriation/use/adaptation of the intervention products (or outputs) by actors. During the implementation of an intervention, adjustments and adaptations to the initial impact pathway identified might occur. ImpresS ex ante includes the definition of a monitoring, evaluation and learning (MEL) system focused on outcomes that will enable strategic management and understanding of outcome generating processes. The ImpresS ex ante approach also has a major objective of communicating with partner institutions and donors on CIRAD future interventions and their plausible impacts.

Coordination: Etienne Hainzelin.

Steering committee: Etienne Hainzelin, Guy Faure.

ImpresS team: Genowefa Blundo Canto and Aurelle de Romemont,

with active participation of Bernard Triomphe, Danielle Barret, Frédéric Goulet, Syndhia Mathé, Marie Hélène Dabat, Eric Vall, Christelle Monier, Aurélie Toiller, Agathe Devaux-Spatarakis, Jean Louis Le Guerroué.

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