Value for Investment

To answer value for money questions, we’ve developed an approach called value for investment. It’s rigorous, built on sound theory, and practical to use. Combining strengths of evaluation and economics, our approach helps bring clarity to value for money.

The value for investment approach looks at multiple criteria (for example, social, cultural, environmental and economic value) and brings them together to provide robust conclusions that get straight to the point. Examples include Kinnect group evaluations of the Māori and Pacific Education Initiative and the Sustainable Farming Fund. 

How does it work? 

The value for investment approach, developed through Julian’s PhD research, joins the forces of:

  • Rubrics – agreed criteria (aspects of performance) and standards (levels of performance) defining what good value for money looks like
  • Multiple sources of evidence – combining qualitative and quantitative data for a nuanced understanding of program costs, processes, consequences, and value
  • Economic methods (like cost-benefit analysis) to contribute part of the evidence for the evaluation
  • The full evaluation toolkit, to support credible evidence and reasoning – for example, culturally responsive evaluation, participatory approaches, developmental evaluation, systems thinking and complexity-informed approaches, and multiple strategies for approaching causality and contribution.

An intuitive process 

Value for investment follows a logical sequence of eight steps. The process hinges on agreed definitions of value for money. These definitions provide a systematic framework to ensure the evaluation is aligned with the program design, collects and analyses the right evidence, draws robust conclusions, and tells a clear performance story that answers the value for money question.

Around the world

The approach is used globally to evaluate complex and hard-to-measure programs and policy reforms. It is taught in the University of Melbourne’s Master of Evaluation Program. In the development sector JK&A has teamed up with Oxford Policy Management (OPM) to write this Guide, and applied the approach in diverse settings spanning public financial management, governance, international trade, market development, climate change, health, education, and social development, among others. Published examples include the MUVA female economic empowerment program in Mozambique and the Pakistan sub-national governance program. The approach has also been adopted by Africa’s Financial Sector Development network.


King, J. (2017). Using economic methods evaluativelyAmerican Journal of Evaluation

King, J. & OPM (2018). OPM’s approach to assessing value for money – a guide. Oxford: Oxford Policy Management Ltd.

King, J., Allan, S. (2018). Applying Evaluative Thinking to Value for Money: The Pakistan Sub-National Governance Programme. Evaluation Matters—He Take Tō Te Aromatawai, 4, pp. 207-235.

King, J., Guimaraes, L. (2016). Evaluating Value for Money in International Development: The Ligada Female Economic Empowerment Program. eVALUation Matters, Third Quarter, 2016, pp. 58-69. Africa Development Bank.

Oakden, J., King, J. (2018). Evaluation, in M. Tolich & C. Davidson (Eds.). Social science research in New Zealand: An introduction (3rd ed; pp. 180-193). Auckland, New Zealand: Auckland University Press.

Kinnect group & Foundation North. (2016). Kia E Te Whakangao: Māori & Pacific Education Initiative Value for investment evaluation report. Auckland: Foundation North.

King, J. (2016). Value for Investment: A practical evaluation theory. Auckland: Julian King & Associates Ltd.


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