Governing through evidence: participation and power in policy evaluation

David Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

This article considers different approaches to policy evaluation within recent writings on governance and evaluation research. Governance theorists locate evaluation within a new ‘mode of regulation’ aimed at managing a ‘dispersed state at arms length’. The strength of this approach is that it places policy evaluation within an explicitly political framework. However, the governance perspective focuses on evaluation as a state-centred activity and tends to underplay its contested nature. Within the evaluation research literature, on the other hand, attempts to deal with the ‘politics of evaluation’ tend to focus on evaluation as a research practice. This misses the discursive construction of evaluation as a political project. While some approaches within the evaluation literature stress the ‘democratising’ role of ‘stakeholder participation’, they are set within a democratic pluralist model of politics, which frequently fails to deal with underlying power relations within which the clash of competing stakeholder interests takes place. This article challenges these constructions. It draws on the strengths of both approaches to propose a critical ‘politics of evaluation’ based on service user control. It suggests some practical strategies drawn from a review of recent evaluation research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)601-608
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Social Policy
Volume34
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2005

Fingerprint

participation
evaluation
evidence
evaluation research
governance
politics
stakeholder
research practice
regulation
literature

Cite this

@article{8d2374d818eb4e1d957af6635bd3aa2a,
title = "Governing through evidence: participation and power in policy evaluation",
abstract = "This article considers different approaches to policy evaluation within recent writings on governance and evaluation research. Governance theorists locate evaluation within a new ‘mode of regulation’ aimed at managing a ‘dispersed state at arms length’. The strength of this approach is that it places policy evaluation within an explicitly political framework. However, the governance perspective focuses on evaluation as a state-centred activity and tends to underplay its contested nature. Within the evaluation research literature, on the other hand, attempts to deal with the ‘politics of evaluation’ tend to focus on evaluation as a research practice. This misses the discursive construction of evaluation as a political project. While some approaches within the evaluation literature stress the ‘democratising’ role of ‘stakeholder participation’, they are set within a democratic pluralist model of politics, which frequently fails to deal with underlying power relations within which the clash of competing stakeholder interests takes place. This article challenges these constructions. It draws on the strengths of both approaches to propose a critical ‘politics of evaluation’ based on service user control. It suggests some practical strategies drawn from a review of recent evaluation research.",
author = "David Taylor",
year = "2005",
month = "10",
doi = "DOI: 10.1017/S0047279405009177",
language = "English",
volume = "34",
pages = "601--608",
journal = "Journal of Social Policy",
issn = "0047-2794",
number = "4",

}

Governing through evidence: participation and power in policy evaluation. / Taylor, David.

In: Journal of Social Policy, Vol. 34, No. 4, 10.2005, p. 601-608.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

TY - JOUR

T1 - Governing through evidence: participation and power in policy evaluation

AU - Taylor, David

PY - 2005/10

Y1 - 2005/10

N2 - This article considers different approaches to policy evaluation within recent writings on governance and evaluation research. Governance theorists locate evaluation within a new ‘mode of regulation’ aimed at managing a ‘dispersed state at arms length’. The strength of this approach is that it places policy evaluation within an explicitly political framework. However, the governance perspective focuses on evaluation as a state-centred activity and tends to underplay its contested nature. Within the evaluation research literature, on the other hand, attempts to deal with the ‘politics of evaluation’ tend to focus on evaluation as a research practice. This misses the discursive construction of evaluation as a political project. While some approaches within the evaluation literature stress the ‘democratising’ role of ‘stakeholder participation’, they are set within a democratic pluralist model of politics, which frequently fails to deal with underlying power relations within which the clash of competing stakeholder interests takes place. This article challenges these constructions. It draws on the strengths of both approaches to propose a critical ‘politics of evaluation’ based on service user control. It suggests some practical strategies drawn from a review of recent evaluation research.

AB - This article considers different approaches to policy evaluation within recent writings on governance and evaluation research. Governance theorists locate evaluation within a new ‘mode of regulation’ aimed at managing a ‘dispersed state at arms length’. The strength of this approach is that it places policy evaluation within an explicitly political framework. However, the governance perspective focuses on evaluation as a state-centred activity and tends to underplay its contested nature. Within the evaluation research literature, on the other hand, attempts to deal with the ‘politics of evaluation’ tend to focus on evaluation as a research practice. This misses the discursive construction of evaluation as a political project. While some approaches within the evaluation literature stress the ‘democratising’ role of ‘stakeholder participation’, they are set within a democratic pluralist model of politics, which frequently fails to deal with underlying power relations within which the clash of competing stakeholder interests takes place. This article challenges these constructions. It draws on the strengths of both approaches to propose a critical ‘politics of evaluation’ based on service user control. It suggests some practical strategies drawn from a review of recent evaluation research.

U2 - DOI: 10.1017/S0047279405009177

DO - DOI: 10.1017/S0047279405009177

M3 - Article

VL - 34

SP - 601

EP - 608

JO - Journal of Social Policy

JF - Journal of Social Policy

SN - 0047-2794

IS - 4

ER -