Evidence, Understanding and Complexity: Evaluation in Non-linear Systems

Marian Barnes, Elizabeth Matka, Helen Sullivan

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    This article discusses the challenges associated with the evaluation of complex policy initiatives, focusing on one element of the national evaluation of Health Action Zones in England: Building Capacity for Collaboration. It describes the multiple dimensions of complexity that characterize HAZs and considers the limitations of the Theory of Change approach in encompassing the diverse change processes that HAZs seek to promote. Drawing on social constructionist perspectives and from both complexity theory and new institutional theory, the authors propose that evaluators need not only to be able to work with change theories generated within such complex programmes, but also to apply `higher level' theory to an understanding of the way such programmes develop. They argue that the role of evaluators in `telling the story' is an important part of the evaluation challenge in such contexts.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)265-284pp
    JournalEvaluation
    Volume9
    Issue number3
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2003

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