All evaluators may or may not understand this – other examples in Pawson’s excellent book make one think that actually not every evaluator is so enlightened. Certainly this ‘inconvenient truth’ has been ignored, defied, neglected or forgotten by many policymakers and public management reformers. In fact it is common for policymakers and management reformers to speak and write (and act) as though the particular solution they have chosen (performance management; Total Quality Management [TQM]; accruals accounting; a ‘nudge’; and so on) will be the solution more or less everywhere and for everyone. A recent example would be the Conservative–Liberal Democrat coalition government’s plans for reforming the UK civil service. During parliamentary hearings on the plans in January 2013 the Whitehall historian Lord Hennessy joined a line of doubting experts and suggested that the reform was ‘only a fragment of the picture. It needs context, background and synthesis and a proper discussion’ (Public Administration Select Committee, 2013). Other, more dramatic, cases would include those occasions when Western-style management reforms were pushed onto developing countries or, during the 1990s and early 2000s, onto Central and Eastern European states that were candidates for membership of the European Union (EU).
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