Camilla Adelle and Sabine Weiland
Policy assessment has spread rapidly around the world in the last few decades providing an opportunity for further innovation and understanding in the way in which assessment is conceived, practised and researched. The extension of assessment from project and programme level to policy level was in part intended to improve its effectiveness by moving the focus of study upstream in the policy-making process. The chapter reflects on the state of the art in policy assessment. It illustrates how the diffusion of policy assessment has led not to one standard ‘correct’ way of conducting policy assessment but to a great deal of diversity in how policy assessment is practised as well as researched and even theorized. Although the ‘textbook’ concept and everyday practices of policy assessment are based on a traditional rational linear concept of policy-making, policy assessment has become the latest arena for post-positivist conceptions of policy-making and assessment to resurface. The chapter suggests that the future agenda for both research and practices could – indeed should – attempt to straddle these two theoretical approaches.