Evaluation and the social construction of impacts
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The central question of this article is when, how and what do governmental agencies learn from evaluations. A structural constructivist theoretical framework is developed and applied to two case studies, in both of which a report of the Dutch Court of Audit is taken as a starting point. A reconstruction is made of the intra- and interorganizational processes in which the impacts of these evaluations were socially constructed. It appears that an evaluation hardly has any direct effect that can be unequivocally ascribed to it. Rather, evaluations seem to support or counteract debates, tendencies and options already present (or 'under construction') in the interaction among actors involved. Using a structural constructivist theoretical framework we identify mechanisms and conditions that enhance forms of learning processes. The paper concludes with some hypotheses about the genesis of evaluation impact.
- coa report