Evaluative Research Methods

Managing the Complexities of Judgment in the Field

Saville Kushner

A volume in the series: Evaluation and Society. Editor(s): Jennifer C. Greene, University of Illinois - Champaign. Stewart I. Donaldson, Claremont Graduate University.

Published 2016

This book is written for research students and their supervisors, for ‘program evaluators’, and for those researchers who don’t call themselves evaluators, but whose research is evaluative. It is aimed, this is to say, at those whose research involves judgment - of policies, practices or organization. judgment of their value, merit or their appropriateness. The involvement of judgment changes the nature of any research and makes particular demands on the researcher in terms of choice and use of method, ethics, political relationships and even emotional capabilities. There are many methodological text-books and models to support the researcher to meet such challenges. This is not one of those. Rather than teach a methodology or propose a model, this book helps you to think methodologically - i.e. to solve methodological, political, emotional issues as they arise, using your own judgment and your own resources. There are no blueprints for dealing with the ethics and the politics of evaluative research, there is only your ability to manage complexity and unpredictability. This book supports you in developing just that. Since this is an intellectual challenge the book offers both theory and method combined, and is laced with practical examples.

Here at last is a thoughtful and important effort to enlarge the theoretical and practical evaluative framework that includes consideration of the political environment. Part history, part memoir, part technical guide, and part passionate advocacy, Saville Kushner has written a book that moves our field forward. ~ Eleanor Chelimsky

Acknowledgements. Outline of the Book. PART I: INTRODUCTIONS CHAPTER 1: What is Evaluative Research and How Are You Positioned Within It? CHAPTER 2: Evaluative Enquiry and Democracy: Where It Came From and Where It Might Go. CHAPTER 3: Social Change and Evaluative Research. CHAPTER 4: Theorizing, Contingency, and Evaluative Cognition: Conceptual Tools to Help You Read the Book. PART II: THE CRAFT OF EVALUATIVE RESEARCH CHAPTER 5: The ‘Self’ and the ‘Person’: Democratic Individualism. CHAPTER 6: Evaluative Interviewing. CHAPTER 7: Observation-Based Interviewing, Triangulation and the Redistribution of Power. CHAPTER 8: On Bullfighting, the Fragile Self, and an Introduction to Evaluative Case Study. CHAPTER 9: Analyzing Organization as an Evaluative Case. CHAPTER 10: Writing Democratically, and Finding Your Own Voice. PART III: THE POLITICS OF EVALUATIVE RESEARCH: DANGERS IN THE FIELD CHAPTER 11: Quieting Reform: When Evaluative Research Can Be Dangerous, with Robert Stake and Acacia Cochise. CHAPTER 12: Politics and Negotiation in Evaluative Enquiry. CHAPTER 13: Evaluation Inside the Political System, With Barry Kushner. CHAPTER 14: Radical Manifestos for Evaluative Research. PART IV: CRITIQUES OF CURRENTLY POPULAR EVALUATION PRACTICES, THE WAY FORWARD CHAPTER 15: Democracy, Theory, and Logic in Evaluative Research: Beware of Rationalism. CHAPTER 16: Democracy and Method in International Development Evaluation. CHAPTER 17: Arriving Backwards: Evaluative Enquiry, Innovation, and Democracy. References.