Promoting evaluation use within dyamic organizations: a case study examining evaluator behaviour

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Poth, Cheryl-Anne N.
Evaluation , Case study
In this thesis I describe a research study to further our understanding of the role of the evaluator as a facilitator of evaluative inquiry within organizations. I assumed dual roles as both the evaluator and the evaluation-use researcher to examine the effect of my behaviour on the evaluation of a dynamic organization. My approach as the evaluator was influenced by a decade of experience as a practising evaluator and by the insights I gained from my readings of organizational theory and three evaluation theories responsive, participatory, and developmental. My study of the nature, quality, and consequences of the evaluator/stakeholder interactions while participating in the process was anchored by approaches from the fields of educational research and organizational theory informed by complexity science. Using data generated from modifying the traditional case study method, including reflective journal entries related to my decision-making process, I generated critical episodes as a way of understanding the circumstances surrounding shifts in my behaviour. My iterative analysis of the critical episodes and the insights gained from them enabled me to track the transformations of the six personal evaluation principles that guided my evaluator approach and led to the creation of a seventh principle. The cross-case analysis revealed the evaluation process as a non-linear progression whereby the evaluator and the individual stakeholders engaged in establishing trust, fostering collaborations, and promoting learning. This study contributes three implications for evaluation practice including providing empirical data on what it means for an evaluator and individual stakeholder to develop close engagement through evaluative inquiry, bringing to the forefront the value of systematic and purposeful reflection as a means of enhancing the quality of this engagement, and pointing to the importance for evaluators continually integrating past experiences and new theoretical frameworks with understandings gleaned from close engagement. Finally, I posit a new approach documenting the complexity of the influence of the evaluator on shaping organizational and program development within the dynamic context.
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