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Giel Ton

Research Fellow

Giel Ton is a Research Fellow at the Institute of Development Studies and Director of the Centre for Development Impact. He specializes in the design of mixed-methods research on agricultural value chains and private-sector development. He promotes Contribution Analysis as an overarching approach of theory-based evaluation and a stepwise process to identify the hot spots where additional data collection and reflection is needed. He co-convenes the professional course Contribution Analysis for Impact Evaluation.

He applies his methodological skills to projects relating to institutional arrangements and collective action in agricultural value chains, such as collective marketing, certification, and market system development. Currently, he is involved in research on the governance of food safety in urban food markets in Peru (GICCAP), the scaling of inclusive business projects in Africa (2SCALE), the impact evaluation of a private sector development programme in Ethiopia (PEPE), sustainable intensification in poultry production (One Health Poultry Hub) and social protection and action research on child labour in Bangladesh (CLARISSA).

Most of these projects focus directly or indirectly on value chain governance and coordination. These imply configurations of incentives and institutional arrangements as ‘value chain governance mechanisms’. These mechanisms are based on an amalgam of (sometimes conflicting) formal and informal rules and regulations. Giel’s research focuses on those chains in the value chain where smallholders, local agents, farmer groups and traders exchange agricultural products or related services and negotiate the quality attributes, risks, and rewards in these transactions. In this analysis, he explores the role of other influencing factors and actors upstream or downstream of the value chain and in the institutional environment and the inequity of power in those relations.

To do so, he tries to analyse the heterogeneity of effects/impact, using the core question of realist evaluation: What works for whom under what conditions, and why?  A realist analysis typically results in various context-mechanism outcome configurations (CMOs) that explain why certain contextual characteristics make that specific subgroups of actors benefit (or not) from particular support activities.

Giel’s latest publication ‘Contribution, Causality, Context, and Contingency when Evaluating Inclusive Business Programmes’ elaborates on the methodological challenges of evaluating impacts in inclusive business programmes and highlights the promises of a behavioural system lens to identify the relevant context conditions that make interventions work for some, and not for others.



Action on Children’s Harmful Work in African Agriculture

Action on Children’s Harmful Work in African Agriculture (ACHA) is a seven-year research programme supported by the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) that started in January 2020. The aim of the programme is to build evidence on: the forms, drivers, and experiences of...


Centre for Development Impact

The Centre for Development Impact (CDI) contributes to learning and innovation in the field of impact evaluation. The Centre aims to improve the assessment of impact on the poor, particularly through the use of appropriate, mixed method, and robust evaluation designs.



Food certification schemes, impact and existential questions

Certification systems, like Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance and organic agriculture are crucial social capital in the food system. They need to show that they are credible. Therefore, a large part of published research on sustainability in food production concerns the impact of certification. The...

31 July 2019



Social Protection Intervention: Evaluation Research Design

CLARISSA Research and Evidence Paper 3

This paper describes the research design for investigating and evaluating the Child Labour: Action-Research-Innovation in South and South-Eastern Asia (CLARISSA) social protection cash-plus intervention in a slum in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Giel Ton
Giel Ton & 3 others

13 September 2022


Theory-Based Evaluation of Inclusive Business Programmes

IDS Bulletin 53.1

Increasingly, development funding is directed to programmes aiming to make market systems more favourable for smallholders and low-income consumers of food. The development outcomes of these programmes are not self-evident. Programmes operate in dynamic markets full of uncertainties and...

7 February 2022

Giel Ton’s recent work