A part of our Politically Agile Programming series, our ‘All About Behaviour: KAPE®, Adaptation and ‘Sticky’ Institutional Change’ paper describes Global Partners Governance’s approach to institutional reform and political change : KAPE® (knowledge-application-practice-effect). This methodology was developed over the last fifteen years (and more!) of working in some of the most complex and sensitive political environments with politicians and officials in parliaments, political parties, ministries, and local government, and enables us to deliver ‘sticky’ institutional and behavioural change.
This paper makes the case that international assistance should be about changing behaviour. It is indeed a common mistake of traditional approaches to focus on reforming structures without sparing time or resources on understanding how they will perform in practice, thus neglecting the essential need to account for the people who work within those structures and their crucial role in receiving, enabling, and carrying out sustainable change.
Following this adaptive programming approach, project staff should strive to enforce monitoring and delivery practice that allow the project to evolve and respond to the real-life context of the case study at hand instead of the environment theorised at the planning stage. Doing so, practitioners should aim to deliver a programme that enables individuals themselves to adapt to new structures and conditions, which must be implemented through a behaviour-centred approach.
“Unless reforms to institutional structures or processes are accompanied by the development of new cultural and behavioural norms, they are likely to be short-lived, and ineffective.”
KAPE® recognises the need to study and understand existing patterns of behaviour, as well as why they exist in the first place, in order to deliver the programme to and with the people who demonstrate said behaviour. Behaviour is linked to the perception of one’s own self-interest: to encourage change, the practitioner should ensure that individuals are convinced that this will prove beneficial to them. Incentives must be identified to find entry-points through those amenable individuals; long lasting change is then brought forward by creating and promoting new behaviours instead of artificially reforming structures alone.
GPG’s KAPE® methodology follows the outlined steps:
This crucial first stage allow for the identification of the most suitable way to move forward. This decision-making process should take place through dialogue between the project staff and its recipients. It allows us to determine whether to assist the recipients with specific institutional reforms, to develop new internal working methods, or to organise training and mentoring sessions to enhance the skills of staff members we are working with. Projects will most often involve all three angles at once, using multiple entry points.
The next step sets out to make those selected approaches work in practice, and to ensure that the people within the target institutions react well to it. During the application process, it is therefore essential that the forms of support employed stay relevant to the direct concerns of the people they are trying to help.
KAPE® focusses on developing pockets of good practice within the target institutions, relying on individuals who initially bought into the change offered by the programme. The long-term goal is for the change to become the institution’s routine way of working, the new normal. Implementing this often relies on repetition and adaptivity, on refining techniques again and again until they become standard practice.
From starting small through the instigation of these pockets of good practice, we then support a ripple effect throughout the organisation and let it partially drive change from within. MPs learn their roles by emulating the behaviour of other MPs, more senior, or more prominent. We encourage the spread of this behaviour through the socialisation process, allowing individuals to emulate the change of their own accord, because they recognise its interest for them and their work.
Through this process, we obtain lasting institutional change: we help people do their job better first, instead of prioritising structural reform to the detriment of individuals.
KAPE® in Iraq
The KAPE® methodology helped us in our project in Iraq, which aimed to enhance the capacity of the country’s Council of Representatives (CoR) to manage legislation and parliamentary business through improved coordination with its Government and enhanced internal management mechanisms.
We supported target committees in dealing with key legislation and identified key changes needed to enhance legislative scrutiny and improve policy processes. Starting small, we collaborated with a selection of committees, introducing our Post-Legislative Scrutiny approach. This evolved into plans to spread best practice guidance on Legislative Scrutiny across the Parliament, and Committees across the CoR applying Legislative Scrutiny to their work of their own accord: the ripple effect had worked.
Monitoring and Evaluation KAPE®
It is of course essential to reflect, question, adapt, and identify new entry points when movement from one stage to the next does not occur, or does not occur as well as anticipated.
“If progress has stalled it is important to know whether this is to do with deliberate obstruction on the part of certain individuals, or a subtle change in the incentives at work locally so that stakeholders no longer see the project as relevant in dealing with pressing problems.“
Because so much of KAPE®’s impact can only be measured qualitatively, our Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) tools must adapt accordingly.
For that purpose, the KAPE® M&E chain integrates qualitative and quantitative checks, each stage of the monitoring process aiming to corroborate the qualitative checks through evidence acquired at the next quantitative link.
By ensuring that quantitative measures are not our sole indicators of impact, as they can be misleading on their own, we shift the focus of project activities away from solely hitting set measurable target without keeping broader picture in mind. Doing so, the KAPE® chain promote the delivery of long-term, people-focussed, behavioural change.