The Strategic Unit on Impact Evaluation is a group of experts in social research and monitoring and evaluation methodologies, who started collaborating together to systematise and innovate their knowledge concerning impact evaluation through a cross – fertilisation process of mutual learning and joint action – research.
The Strategic unit is composed of different kinds of experts, including economists, statisticians, political scientists, and anthropologists, from a variety of professional backgrounds including academia, development agencies and the consulting sector.
The group is a special unit of the research lab ARCO (Action Research for Co – Development), an action research lab of the University of Florence.
The Unit on Impact Evaluation integrates the expertise of its different members and uses innovative and advanced methodologies in order to deliver high level project and programme impact evaluations.


I. Performing policy relevant and rigorous Impact Evaluations, needing both quantitative and qualitative analysis.

II. Experimenting innovative methods for Impact Evaluation, and contribute to the enhancing of the applied research on Impact Evaluation.

III. Providing technical assistance to improve the capacity of public and private institutions in evaluating and learning from projects and programmes.


The Unit is composed of a board of scientific directors specialised in statistics (Prof. Fabrizia Mealli, University of Florence), economics (Prof. Mario Biggeri, University of Florence).
The experts activated for every impact evaluation may vary depending on the subject and peculiarities of each specific evaluation. Being part of ARCO (a University research lab co – founded by a consulting agency), the Strategic Unit has access to a large number of high level academics and professionals.

Methods and capacity

Thanks to the wide expertise of its broad group of experts, the Strategic Unit on Impact Evaluation is able to perform both qualitative and quantitative analyses, using also multidimensional models of impact analysis.
The Unit is able to cover the full chain of impact evaluation phases, from the theoretical study to the design and application of a specific methodology of field research.
We are able to perform all the main methods for impact evaluation, such as:

    • pre- and post intervention project and control group design with randomisation or non-randomized assignment;
    • delayed pre-test/post-test design with a comparison group. Evaluation does not start until around the mid point of the project;
    • pre – and post – intervention project group with post-intervention only comparison group;
    • post-implementation only project and comparison groups with no baseline data;
    • pre- and post-implementation project group analysis with no comparison group;
    • post-implementation project group with no baseline data and no comparison group.

In addition to this, the Impact Evaluation Unit elaborated the Evaluation of Human Development (EHD) Methodology. You can find a detailed description about it on our Brochure EHD

Principles underlying our work

  • participatory approach in conducting impact evaluations;
  • policy-relevance of the research topics selected, and attention to the features of the local context in the design of the actual study;
  • support to the use of evidence in policy making, programme design, and programme implementation, which we encourage by preparing tailored formats for the dissemination of the evaluation results, and by providing tools and recommendations for evidence – based policies;
  • continuous innovation in the methodological approach, achieved by using multidimensional and sector – specific methods of analysis;
  • Independence and transparency of the impact evaluation conducted.

Main partners

  • Non-Governmental Organizations
  • Local/National Governments, Institutions and Organizations
  • International Cooperation Institutions, Programs and Funds
  • EU Institutions
  • Italian Ministries
  • University Departments and Research Centres
  • Foundations and Corporate Social Responsibility
  • Trade Associations
  • Local development agents
  • International Development Consulting Agencies