What is the best way to evaluate Rural Development Programmes?


Stakeholders should be included in the evaluation process in an appropriate manner (c) Thünen-Institut/Gitta Schnaut
Participants in an evaluation working group (© Thünen-Institut/Gitta Schnaut)

Further development of evaluation concepts regarding rural development policies

 Since the early 1990s, evaluations have formed an important part of the profile of the Thuenen-Institute of Rural Studies, respectively, of its predecessors. We developed analysis and assessment methods in an on-going process. Better access to micro-data supports this process.

Background and Objective

Evaluation is becoming more and more important. National programmes are often EU co-financed. Evaluation is legally required for EU co-financed programmes. There are broad theoretical evaluation concepts. But practically, we find a failure of those concepts because of missing objectives (like nailing jelly to a tree) or missing or qualitatively insufficient data. Evaluation forms part of the policy cycle. Politicians expect short-term results, even if the measures’ impact needs more time. Our objective is to develop suitable methods between the two referred poles.


 We check qualitative and quantitative methods with the available data pool concerning their suitability for evaluation purposes. We are engaged in discussions on the EU level and German networks for methodological and organisational improvements. Furthermore, we support exchanges with evaluators in other policy fields.

Data and Methods

 We are working with micro-data, i.e., farm accountancy data, data of the Integrated Administration and Control System or the Paying Agencies and agricultural statistics. Qualitative data are mainly based on own surveys, like expert interviews. We use various analytical methods, i.e., matching or regression methods. We see the combination of both qualitative and quantitative methods as a promising approach. A recent example is the implementation cost analysis within the 7-state-evaluation.

Preliminary Results

We publish relevant methodological results in scientific journals. Furthermore, we organise evaluation workshops. We participate in discussions on the EU level with comments, as reviewers or providing examples of best practices.


Involved Thünen-Partners

Funding Body

  • Federal Ministry of Food und Agriculture (BMEL)
    (national, öffentlich)


1.2001 - 12.2024

More Information

Projekt type:
Project status: ongoing

Publications to the project

hits: 2

  1. Grajewski R, Meyer S (2014) Stand der Evaluation in der Strukturpolitik. In: Böttcher W, Kerlen C, Maats P, Schwab O, Sheikh S (eds) Evaluation in Deutschland und Österreich : Stand und Entwicklungsperspektiven in den Arbeitsfeldern der DEGEval - Gesellschaft für Evaluation. Münster; New York; München; Berlin: Waxmann, pp 37-59
  2. Grajewski R (2009) Evaluation in der Agrarpolitik in Deutschland. In: Widmer T, Beywl W, Fabian C (eds) Evaluation : ein systematisches Handbuch. Wiesbaden: VS Verl für Sozialwissenschaften, pp 75-86