To help policy makers and programme managers improve evaluation and think practically about how they can get it embedded at programme design stage, we have provided a number of case studies across our policy areas. Below we offer three examples of where an area-based initiative has been evaluated for its impact on local economic growth. (Read about our approach to this policy here).
Each evaluation case study has met our minimum standard of evidence, which means it (at least) compares what changed for the areas that benefited from an intervention with what changed over the same time frame for otherwise comparable areas that didn’t benefit, or that received a different type of intervention.
The case studies below use two different approaches to achieving this comparison. One study uses a randomised control trial (RCT), the gold standard of evaluation, and the others use statistical approaches to try to ‘strip out’ the impact of the other factors that could have affected outcomes in both the beneficiary group and the comparator group.
Evaluation need not be a very technical exercise and it can be helpful to borrow from the approaches adopted in existing studies. Read more about how to evaluate, and why we think it can be helpful to plagiarise in our How to Evaluate series. You can also read up on a number of different evaluation methods in our scoring guide to help you both judge other evaluations, and make a decision about which method to use.
The three evaluations below suggest ways to design evaluations of area-based initiatives, as well as providing an outline for how we reached some of our conclusions in our evidence review.
This study examines the impact of the UK’s Local Enterprise Growth Initiative (LEGI), which ran from 2006 to 2011. Read more.
This study evaluates the impact of the Regional Selective Assistance (RSA) programme, which provided support to firms in areas with low GDP and high unemployment. Read more.
This study evaluates the economic impact of three different area-based initiatives in the United States – Enterprise Zones (ENTZ), Empowerment Zones (EMPZ) and Enterprise Communities (ENTC). Read more.