Evaluation for the real world
The impact of evidence in policymaking
- Colin Palfrey, Paul Thomas, Ceri Phillips
- Hardback, 256 pages, 234 x 156 mm
- 13 Jun 2012
£56.00 - List price: £70.00 You save: £14.00
North America customers can order this book here from the University of Chicago Press.
"In an era of resource constraint the case for improving the way public policy is evaluated gains weight. This wide-ranging book provides an in depth analysis of alternative approaches to evaluation that will be of great interest to both scholars and policy makers."
Robin Hambleton, Professor of City Leadership, University of the West of England, Bristol
"This book provides a critical and long overdue analysis of the contribution of decades of evaluation research to policy making. The text is concise, comprehensive, objective and eminently readable."
Philip Jacobs, University of Alberta and the Institute of Health Economics, Canada
About This Book
Evaluation research findings should be a key element of the policy-making process, yet in reality they are often disregarded. This valuable book examines the development of evaluation and its impact on public policy by analysing evaluation frameworks and criteria which are available when evaluating public policies and services. It further examines the nature of evidence and its use and non-use by decision-makers and assesses the work of influential academics in the USA and UK in the context of evaluation and policy making. The book emphasises the 'real world' of decision-makers in the public sector and recognises how political demands and economic pressures can affect the decisions of those who commission evaluation research while providing recommendations for policymakers on adopting a different approach to evaluation. This is essential reading for under-graduate and post-graduate students of policy analysis and public sector management, and those who are involved in the planning and evaluation of public policies and services.
Author BiographyColin Palfrey has worked in local government and taught in UK universities and abroad. He is currently Research Officer in the National Assembly for Wales. Paul Thomas is Honorary Research Fellow at Swansea University; he has worked in local government and several universities and has been undertaking evaluations for more than 30 years. Ceri Phillips is Professor of Health Economics at Swansea University Centre for Health Economics and Head of Research at Swansea University's College of Human and Health Sciences
Evaluation in the political and academic worlds
What is meant by evaluation?
Selecting evaluation criteria
Developments in economic evaluation
The impact of evaluation on decision making
The future for evaluation
ReviewsOwn it? Review it!
Evaluation for the real world
Evaluation studies has a mixed heritage in that it was essentially purpose built for practice but has, over time, become a respectable field of academic scholarship as well. The crossovers between the two are not always self-apparent to those who are not au fait with the field. This is where Palfrey et al.’s Evaluation for the Real World becomes an invaluable reader – it seeks to straddle itself in both these camps. It presents, on the one hand, a comprehensive coverage of the discipline locating, with clarity, the various approaches, models, theoretical frameworks and concepts widely in use in evaluation. Although it’s a scholarship-rich book, the authors have taken care to focus on aspects of practice as well. It is clearly not a ‘how to’ book, but chapters such as ‘Designing evaluations’ and ‘Selecting evaluation criteria’ offer commentary on the ways of doing evaluations. ,Evaluation research is, however, also more than theory or technique. Its design, execution and uptake in policymaking as valid evidence are heavily negotiated by political contexts or what the authors call “the real world”. They point out that the impact of evaluation research to policymaking, assessing why it might not be utilized satisfactorily in the real world of decision making (see their Chapter Seven). ,In all, the book is worth buying but it is not without shortcomings. Undoubtedly, the scholarship is well organised and, for this reason alone, a boon to potential readers but much of this material is not substantively new. From an applied point of view, although the book makes some strong observations about the real world, it isn’t really oriented to the practitioner who exists in it. The writing is redolent of an academic style, and the notable shortage of well-worked out examples of real-life evaluations from community or government organisations – all of which would appeal to practitioners would have made the book more accessible to them.
Reviewed by Rachel Simon-Kumar
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