Research funders like ACIAR typically invest in activities across a spectrum including human capacity building in pursuit of economic, social and environmental benefits. Ideally they allocate their resources such that the returns from these activities at the margin are similar but information about marginal returns is scarce. ACIAR has a strong record in estimating the impact of research leading to new technologies. There is much less experience in valuing research activities that add to human scientific capacity through either discrete training programs or the ‘learning by doing’ component of every research program. ACIAR commissioned Gordon and Chadwick (2007) to review the literature, devise an evaluation framework and apply their approach in two case studies. They partitioned an estimate of total welfare gains from a new technology between capacity building and research components, only qualitatively recognising ‘spillovers’ to later technology development. Here we review the literature in a research production framework, we assess the significance of capacity building activities within the total ACIAR program and we propose a tracer study of ACIAR trainees (Allwright Fellows) and partner institutions to develop an evidence based pathway from investment in ACIAR funded capacity building activities to identifiable specific changes in research outcomes.


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