Institutional and Organizational Performance Assessment

Click on word to see its definition

Administrative/ Legal
How the legal framework, administrative norms and other regulations affect the work of the organization
How the systems in the environment support technology needed for the organization’s work
How the political environment affects the organization
Effects of the economic environment (economic policy, foreign investment, etc) on the organization. Ability to develop competition policy framework and examine industrial sectors, societal databases, levels of competition, low transaction costs
Ability to assess environmental impact and to adapt
How communities, government, donors, partners or others are involved with the organization and value it
Ability to shift social and cultural attitudes
Story of the organization’s foundation, growth, awards and achievements, notable changes in structure or leadership, as well as failures and near misses
Formal articulation of the organization's purpose that results from the organization's vision and that materializes into more concrete objectives/actions
Collectively accepted meaning of the organization (values, collective assumptions)
Reason for staff to join an organization, and the way an organization rewards and punishes its staff
Extent to which an organization is achieving its goals
Ratio that reflects a comparison of outputs accomplished to the costs incurred for accomplishing these goals. A measure of how economically resources/inputs (funds, expertise, time, etc.) are converted to results
Ability of an organization to meet the needs and gain the support of its priority stakeholders in the past, present and future
Financial viability
Ability of an organization to raise the funds required to meet its functional requirements in the short, medium and long term and to maintain the inflow of financial resources greater than the outflow
Strategic leadership
Leadership, strategic planning, niche management
Organizational structure
Governance structure, operational structure
Human resources
Planning, staffing, developing, appraising and rewarding, maintaining effective human relations
Financial management
Financial planning, resource mobilization, financial accountability, financial statements and systems
Facilities management, technology management
Program and services management
Planning, implementing and monitoring programs/projects
Process management
Problem-solving, decision-making, communications, monitoring and evaluation
Inter-organizational linkages
Planning, implementing and monitoring networks and partnerships


Organizations and institutions play significant roles in societal development in Canada and internationally. Increasingly, organizations and their key stakeholders are interested in knowing how well they are:

  • Meeting the needs of the organization’s clientele
  • Adapting to changes in the organization’s external and internal environments
  • Identifying the organization’s added-value or niche in the competitive global environment
  • Identifying and addressing the risks and challenges that may affect the organization’s future effectiveness, viability, and relevance (such as over dependence on a funding source or limited absorptive capacity).

Universalia’s services in institutional and organizational performance assessment can address these questions and also help clients to:

  • Identify needed changes or improvements
  • Inform an organizational change or strategic planning initiative
  • Satisfy accountability and/or risk management requirements of major funders.

Universalia has conducted hundreds of assessments of organizations, partnerships, coalitions, and networks. We analyze conditions and propose solutions that our clients can implement within their own environment, and assist them in improving their performance in ways that truly fit with their vision, culture, and organizational structure.

To help us and our clients to better understand and improve the performance of organizations, Universalia developed the Institutional and Organizational Assessment (IOA) Model in collaboration with the International Development Research Centre (IDRC).

The IOA model is relevant to all organizations, regardless of their nature, and can be used as a framework for external evaluations or as a self-assessment tool.

In the IOA model, performance is defined in terms of the organization’s effectiveness (mission fulfillment), efficiency (accuracy, timeliness and value of service and program delivery), ongoing relevance (the extent to which an organization adapts to changing conditions and its environment), and financial viability. The model also presents an approach to assessing the three underlying forces that drive performance: the capacities of an organization, its external environment, and its internal context or motivation.

The IOA model is inherently problem-solving and forward-looking and is useful for structuring capacity building interventions. It is also flexible and can be easily adapted to different organizational contexts! We have used this model in countless organizational assessments for governmental and non-governmental organizations nationally as well as internationally.

Universalia provides IOA training for partners in many languages and locations. For instance, each year since 2003, Universalia has been asked by the World Bank and Carleton University to teach its approach to Organizational Assessment as part of the International Program for Development Evaluation Training (IPDET) in Ottawa, Canada.

For more information on organizational assessment, visit our section on Books and Articles or visit Reflect & Learn (R&L), a website that is entirely dedicated to Organizational Assessment (OA) and to OA tools. Some examples of IOA reports we have written for our clients are also available in our section on Presentations and Reports.