On the threat of insincerity in evaluation

Jane Davidson, at the international conference Evaluation Revisited:  Improving the Quality of Evaluative Practice by Embracing Complexity, said of evaluation:

  1. It’s not just measuring outcomes; it’s saying how substantial, how valuable, how equitable those outcomes are;
  2. It’s not just reporting on implementation fidelity (did it follow the plan?); it’s saying how well, how effectively, how appropriate the implementation was;
  3. It’s not just reporting whether the project was delivered within budget; it’s asking how reasonable the cost was, how cost-effective it was, and so forth.

But what if the commissioning agency shelves the value judgments into obscurity?  The conference report cites an article in Roger’s blog which says insincerity (commissioners of evaluation defaulting on their commitment to respond to information about both success and failure) is “perhaps the greatest threat to the success of individual evaluations and to the whole enterprise of evaluation”.

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