Handbook on the Theory and Practice of Program Evaluation
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Handbook on the Theory and Practice of Program Evaluation

Edited by Albert N. Link and Nicholas S. Vonortas

As this volume demonstrates, a wide variety of methodologies exist to evaluate particularly the objectives and outcomes of research and development programs. These include surveys, statistical and econometric estimations, patent analyses, bibliometrics, scientometrics, network analyses, case studies, and historical tracings. Contributors divide these and other methods and applications into four categories – economic, non-economic, hybrid and data-driven – in order to discuss the many factors that affect the utility of each technique and how that impacts the technological, economic and societal forecasts of the programs in question.
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Chapter 2: The theory and practice of public-sector R & D economic impact analysis

Albert N. Link and John T. Scott


This chapter summarizes the theory and practice of public-sector R & D economic analysis with specific reference to the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST’s) efforts to document the impact that their in-house R & D has had on society. Motivating this research is the general expectation and challenge for public institutions to be accountable for their use of public resources. Economic impact analysis is one way that public institutions can quantify the social contribution of their activity. Impact analysis can also provide important lessons to management about the effectiveness of previous resource allocation decisions, and it can provide guidelines for future strategic planning. To place R & D impact analysis in a broader perspective, we begin with a brief discussion of R & D evaluations. An evaluation of public-sector R & D programs is based on the criterion of efficiency. The central question asked in an R & D evaluation is: How efficient are all attributes of a public-sector R & D program including the program’s management, its strategic planning, and its investment strategy?

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