This paper will look at the convergence and tensions between two trends that have gradually emerged over the past decades to have an important influence on development management and practice and, as a consequence, on the monitoring and evaluation of social development. The first of these has been the increased focus of large donors and aid agencies on the setting of goals and target for their interventions and the creation of objective indicators for their evaluation. This approach is influenced by the New Public Management agenda, with its drive for greater efficiency in the public sector, mirroring the practice of business. The second trend, more deeply rooted in social anthropology, is the perceived need for a greater understanding, not only of the cultural context where planned interventions will take place, but also of the differing sets of values, frames of reference and perceptions of the situation on the ground held by stakeholders and local project managers.



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