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Systemic evaluation: a participative, multi-method approach

Boyd, Alan and Geerling, Ted and Gregory, Wendy J. and Kagan, Carolyn and Midgley, Gerald and Murray, Peter and Walsh, Mike (2007) Systemic evaluation: a participative, multi-method approach. Journal of the Operational Research Society, 58 (10). pp. 1306-1320. ISSN 0160-5682

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Abstract

This paper presents some new ideas on systemic evaluation developed in the context of a project to support capacity building for the evaluation of community health services. Emphases are placed on the need for stakeholder participation; dialogue on the boundaries of evaluations; considering multiple values; and ensuring that marginalized people and issues are properly accounted for. Further developing the work of previous authors, three different approaches to evaluation are outlined, each of which can be applied participatively: goal-based (where goals are set and their achievement is measured); stakeholder (where there are no pre-set goals, and different people's experiences and stories are surveyed to reveal significant issues); and organizational (where organizational processes are compared with models of good practice). There is a logical relationship between these: a stakeholder evaluation can lead to the setting of community-sensitive goals, the achievement of which can be measured through goal-based evaluation, and pursuit of the goals can be enhanced by organizational evaluation. A participative, flexible and responsive evaluation practice will often need to draw upon aspects of all three approaches. Initial feedback from health practitioners suggests that this way of thinking about systemic evaluation may prove useful in a range of situations faced by people in the statutory, voluntary and community sectors.

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