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Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is an absurd one.
(Voltaire)

JANUARY 11, 2013

Evaluation Use as Influence: Article Review

An article recently published by Sarah Appleton-Dyer, Janet Clinton, Peter Carswell and Rob McNeill in the American Journal of Evaluation (vol. 3, no. 4, pp. 532-546) piqued our interest. In a time when evaluation budgets for government programs are shrinking, the question of evaluation use becomes increasingly salient. The authors, in Understanding Evaluation Influence Within Public Sector Partnerships: A Conceptual Model, ground their endeavour to explore this theme in the literature.

As Appleton-Dyer, Clinton, Carswell and McNeill point out, "evaluation use (...) is a complex phenomenon that is still not well understood." (p. 532) They choose to leave behind the four typically-inventoried types of evaluation use that they briefly describe (instrumental, conceptual, symbolic and process use ) and focus on evaluation use as influence, because "this term encompasses traditional conceptions of use, as well as various changes at the individual, interpersonal and collective levels." (p. 533) The authors also see value in highlighting "the numerous factors that can affect the influence of an evaluation, including context." (p. 533) The article draws on the literature of other disciplines to map out elements that may contribute to evaluation use. These elements are broken down into various categories, which, based on the literature, may interact with one another:

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