Today evaluation is widely spread and advocated by powerful institutions such as the United Nations, the World Bank and the OECD. In many countries legislation makes evaluation a mandatory part of different decision-making processes. It has been taken for granted that evaluation speaks truth to power and contributes to social betterment. However, today evaluation itself has now come under scrutiny. Evaluation is a specific form of social praxis developed in the United States in the 1960s that is associated with specific notions about politics, social change, policy development and implementation. The diffusion of evaluation around the globe has also meant a diffusion of these notions. The author argues that these notions will be less relevant when change processes will often be less gradual than they were assumed to be some decades ago. Evaluation therefore must adapt to a world where decision makers will often confront situations where fundamental change is unavoidable. In such situations, they will need a different knowledge than that they can get from evaluations produced within the framework of earlier policies. This leads to fundamental challenges for evaluation.
Morten Balle Hansen, Karen Nielsen Breidahl, Jan-Eric Furubo and Anne Halvorsen
Chapter 23 by Hansen et al. looks at what to be aware of when implementing large-scale policy reforms. They argue in favour of eight crucial attention points based upon evaluation of public sector reforms: indicators of how to use evaluation as an instrument for improving future implementation of large-scale reforms.