Factors influencing achievements and impact in collaborative forestry research projects in the Asia-Pacific

International development agencies have been funding rural development research projects, including in agriculture, fisheries and forestry, for many decades. However, documented examples of successful research-for-development projects are relatively rare, there is no consensus on a definition of project success or a means of assessing it, and limited information exists on the factors that enhance or diminish research project success. Focusing on forestry projects in the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), this research asked: "What factors influence success in collaborative forestry research projects implemented in developing countries?"

The research examined the nature of success in collaborative forestry research projects in Vietnam, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, developed a new methodology for systematically evaluating the relative success of a series of research projects from existing records, and identified factors that can either enhance or diminish project success during project design and implementation. This research showed that within a country, the relative success of individual projects differs, reflecting the great variation in the nature of the research and the level of funding provided, as well as the technical capacity of in-country partners.

Secondly, different levels of success can occur with similar projects implemented in different countries, even when the duration of collaboration and magnitude of funding provided are relatively similar.

This study demonstrates the value of having a low-cost, consistent method for systematically evaluating the achievements and impacts from a series of research projects, as well the factors that do affect project success. Many of the 37 success factors identified will be widely applicable to collaborative research projects.

About the speaker

Tony Bartlett has a Master of Science from Oxford University and a Degree in Forest Science from the University of Melbourne. He has worked on international forestry development projects in Nepal and Vanuatu and currently works as ACIAR’s Forestry Research Program Manager. In this role he manages a program of forest research projects involving Australian and developing country partners aimed at improving livelihoods through sustainable forestry. Currently the program has projects in Rwanda, Ethiopia, Uganda, Zambia, Nepal, Laos, Vietnam, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Fiji. He has been conducting his PhD studies since December 2011.