Д. Б. Цыганков (гу-вшэ) icon

Д. Б. Цыганков (гу-вшэ)



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Д. Б. Цыганков (гу-вшэ)

Quasi-evaluation: Evaluation as an interactive learning process



Vis-а-vis these manifold conceptual and methodological hurdles ‘full-fledged’ evaluation of public-sector reforms is bound to face (and also in light of the reluctance which policy-makers and top administrators often exhibit towards getting researchers from outside intimately involved in ‘in-depth’ evaluations), Thoenig proposes (in Chapter 11 of this volume) a type of ‘quasi-evaluation’ which would be less fraught with conceptual and methodological predicaments than a ‘full-fledged’ evaluation and more disposed toward focusing on, and restricting itself to, the information- and data-gathering and descriptive functions of evaluation rather than an explanatory one. Thoenig perceives more than one advantage to the ‘quasi-evaluation’ approach. First, such conceptually and methodologically ‘lean’ evaluation designs may find easier access and wider application in the otherwise in an evaluation territory otherwise fraught with hurdles (he causticly remarks that ‘there is no surer way of stifling evaluation at the outset than to confine it to the ghetto of methodology’ [see chapter 11 in this volume]). Second, a conceptually and methodologically pared-down variant of ‘quasi-evaluation’ may be conducive to more ‘trustful’ communication between the policy-maker and the evaluator and to promote a ‘gradual learning process that fosters an information culture’ (Chapter 11 in this volume).


References

Aucoin, Peter (1990), ‘Administrative reform in public management. Paradigms, principles, paradoxes and pendulums’, Governance, 3[2], 115-137.

Barzelay, M. (1997), ґCentral Audit Institutions and Performance Auditing: A Comparative Analysis of Organizational Strategies in the OECD, in Governance, vol. 10, no. 3, pp. 235-260

Bemelmans-Videc, M.L. (2002), ‘Evaluation in The Netherlands 1990-2000.Consolidation and Expansion’, in Jan-Eric Furubo, Ray C. Rist and Rolf Sandahl (eds), International Atlas of Evaluation, New Brunswick and London: Transaction, pp. 115-128.

Christensen,Tom and Per Lжgreid (2001), ‘A Transformative Perspective on Administrative Reforms’, in Tom Christensen and Per Lжgreid (eds), New Public Management, Aldershot: Ashgate, pp. 13-39.

Derlien, Hans-Ulrich (1990), ‘Genesis and Structure of Evaluation Efforts in Comparative Perspective’, in Ray C Rist (ed.), Program Evaluation and the Management of Government, New Brunswick and London: Transaction, pp. 147-177.

Furubo, Jan-Eric, Ray C. Rist and Rolf Sandahl(eds) (2002), International Atlas of Evaluation, New Brunswick and London: Transaction.

Furubo, Jan-Eric and Rolf Sandahl (2002), ‘A Diffusion-Perspective on Global Developments in Evaluation’, in Jan-Eric Furubo, Ray C. Rist and Rolf Sandahl (eds), International Atlas of Evaluation, New Brunswick and London: Transaction, pp. 1-26.

Hood, Christopher (1991), ‘A public management for all seasons?’, Public Administration, 69 [Spring], 3-19.

Knoepfel, Peter and Werner Bussmann (1997), ‘Die цffentliche Politik als Evaluationsobjekt’, in Werner Bussmann, Ulrich Klцti and Peter Knцpfel (eds), Einfьhrung in die Politikevaluation, Basel: Helbing & Lichterhan, pp. 58-77.

Levine, Robert A. (1981), ‘Program Evaluation and Policy Analysis in Western Nations: An Overview’, in Robert A. Levine, Marian A. Solomon, Gerd-Michael Hellstern, and Hellmut Wollmann (eds), Evaluation Research and Practice: Comparative and International Perspectives, Beverly Hills and London: Sage, pp. 12-27.

Pawson, Ray and Nick Tilley (1997), Realistic Evaluation, London: Sage.

Pollitt, Christopher (1995), ‘Justification by works or by faith? Evaluating the New Public Management’, Evaluation, 1[2 (October)], 133-154.

Pollitt,Christopher and Geert Bouckaert (2000), Public Management Reform, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Pressman, Jeffrey and Aaron Wildavsky (1974), Implementation (1984 3rd ed.), Berkeley: University of California Press.

Rist, Ray C. (ed.) (1990), Program Evaluation and the Management of Government, New Brunswick and London: Transaction.

Ritz, Adrian (1999), Die Evaluation von New Public Management, Bern: IOP-Verlag.

Sandahl, Rolf (1992), ‘Evaluation at the Swedish National Audit Bureau’, in J. Mayne et al. (eds), Advancing Public Policy Evaluation, Amsterdam: Elsevier, pp. 115-121.

Sanderson, Ian (2000), ‘Evaluation in Complex Policy Systems’, Evaluation, 6[4], 433-454.

Vedung, Evert (1997), Public Policy and Program Evaluation, New Brunwick: Transaction.

Wagner, Peter and Hellmut Wollmann (1986), ‘Fluctuations in the development of evaluation research: Do regime shifts matter?’, International Social Science Journal, 108, 205-218.

Wollmann, Hellmut (ed.) (2001), ‘Evaluating Public Sector Reforms’, special issue of Revista Internacional de Estudios Politicos,127-143.

Wollmann, Hellmut (2002a), ‘Contractual Research and Policy Knowledge’, International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences, 5, 11574-11578.

Wollmann, Hellmut (2002b), ‘Verwaltungspolitik und Evaluierung: Ansдtze, Phasen und Beispiele im Ausland und in Deutschland, Evaluation und New Public Management’, Zeitschrift fьr Evaluation, 1, 75-101.

Hellmut Wollmann (Humboldt-Universitдt zu Berlin)


Evaluation in public-sector reform.

Trends, potentials and limits in international perspective10


In this concluding chapter an attempt will be made, in a comparative perspective, to identify some salient patterns and trends in the ‘twinned’ development of public-sector reforms and evaluation therein and thereof. For this purpose, cursory accounts on the development in some of the countries under inspection in this volume will be given before some summarising remarks are made.


I. Some country profiles. Analytical framework


Empirically the following cursory accounts will draw on the preceding chapters of this book as well as on other related sources (particularly the country reports in Pollitt and Bouckaert 2000, pp. 129 ff.).


Conceptually they will be guided by an analytical scheme in which, drawing on the ‘neo-institutionalist’ debate11 and on the institutional transformation literature12, the following factors are hypothesised to have particular (explanatory) relevance:13

  1. Starting conditions. Probably more than in other areas of institution building and institutional choice, the institutional choice in public sector reforms is influenced by the very starting conditions, that is, the current format and profile of the public sector (in its various dimensions) from which the modernization process is bound to take off (see also Pollitt and Bouckaert 2000, pp. 62 ff.). The leverage of the starting conditions on the modernization course is readily apparent, since in the perception of the relevant actors they define the country’s modernization deficit or reform need as measured against the imperatives of the dominant modernization discourse—or, conversely, the starting conditions may, in the interpretation of the actors, signal no need or a minimal need for modernization and may suggest even a modernization ‘lead’ over their respective country on some crucial scores (Wollmann 1996, pp. 15ff.);

  2. Socio-economic and ‘external’ factors (budgetary crises, ‘external’ influences [for instance, of the European Union or World Bank]);

  3. Institutional and cultural traditions (such as legacies or path-dependencies14). Public-sector modernization decisions are likely to be strongly influenced also by the institutional and cultural traditions and givens of the country’s institutional world. The impact of these factors is probably the stronger, the more firmly (to the point of eliciting a path-dependency) such institutional and cultural givens are empirically and normatively rooted in the country’s history and tradition. The different strands of the Rechtsstaat (in Continental European countries) and of the ‘civil culture’/’public interest’ traditions (in the Anglo-Saxon world) are exemplary (see Pollitt and Bouckaert 2000, pp. 52 ff, Wollmann 2000b, pp. 4 ff.);

  4. Institutional (polity) setting (unitary/centralised versus federal/decentralised, majoritarian versus consociational/consensual, multi-actor versus single-actor15 countries);

  5. Actor constellations, intentions, interests, ‘will and skill’. As the decisions on public sector modernization are prepared and taken in discourse and decision-making arenas made up of the relevant political, administrative and socio-economic actors (as well as of academics and consultants), the actors’ constellations, intentions, interests and ‘will and skill’ are likely to have significant influence on the institutional choice finally embarked upon;

  6. (national as well as international) discourses and discourse coalitions16, including the increasing interpenetration of national and international discourse arenas and networks with ensuing exchange, learning and adaptation processes.17


For an (explanatory) account of the specific profile of evaluation in and on public sector reforms in the different countries, particularly the distinction should be recalled between internal evaluation in terms of (self-) evaluative tools and procedures within the operating administrative units, on the one hand, and external evaluation particularly of the social science-guided evaluation research type, on the other hand. In explaining the former, the emergence and state of public sector reforms appears to be a strong predictor. With regard to the latter, the existence of institutional actors (such as parliament, court of audit) that advocate external evaluation and the degree of ‘maturity’ of the country’s evaluation culture18 probably have a strong impact.


As a caveat it must mentioned, however, that the following sketches—including the tentative ‘causal interpretation’—are liable, due to brevity and selectivity, to be imperfect and patchy.
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