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Universalia Institutional and Organizational Assessment Model (IOA Model)


Following years of worldwide experience in evaluation, Universalia framed its own conceptual model of organizational assessment: the Institutional and Organizational Assessment Model (IOA Model). The model aims to help an organization defining and improving its overall performance through analyzing its environment, motivation, and capacity. Through these four areas (performance, environment, motivation, and capacity), the model offers a clear-cut methodology to diagnose institutional strengths and weaknesses.

Outline of the Approach 

A schematic representation of the IOA model, of its four areas and their respective factors, allows understanding it clearly (a description of each factor is available when you click on it): 

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

The factors embedded in capacity, motivation and contextual environment all influence the performance of an organization. The overall organizational performance is defined in terms of effectiveness (mission fulfillment), efficiency (accuracy, timeliness and value of service and program delivery), ongoing relevance (the extent to which the organization adapts to changing conditions and its environment), and financial viability.

Find out More

To learn more about the IOA Model, we suggest the following book: Organizational Assessment: A Framework for Improving Performance, published in 2002 and written by Charles Lusthaus, Marie-Hélène Adrien, Gary Anderson, Fred Carden, and George Plinio Montalván. The book can be read, downloaded or even ordered on IDRC website at:

To complete its model, Universalia has also designed a Pocket Guide for a Rapid Institutional and Organizational Assessment.   This Pocket Guide is intended to provide a framework for rapid institutional or organizational assessment during brief visits (one to two days) to an organization. It provides some key concepts for you to reflect on as you analyze the four areas of the IOA Model, i.e. environment, motivation, capacity, and performance. These concepts can be used to write your organizational assessment report. Click here to open the Pocket Guide: Universalia Pocket Guide for a Rapid IOA

Lastly, you can also visit the Universalia website at or contact them directly at:

5252 de Maisonneuve West, Suite 310
Montreal, Quebec
H4A 3S5

Telephone: 1 (514) 485 3565
Fax: 1 (514) 485 3210