The Evaluation Enterprise: A Critical View, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Evaluation Enterprise

A Critical View, 1st Edition

Edited by Jan-Eric Furubo, Nicoletta Stame


282 pages | 6 B/W Illus.

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pub: 2018-07-16
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Today, evaluation is part of governing systems and is supported by powerful institutions. It is taken for granted that evaluation leads to betterment. However, evaluation itself is seldom analyzed from a critical perspective. In this book, Jan-Eric Furubo and Nicoletta Stame have assembled an international line-up of distinguished experts and emerging scholars to fill this void. 

Examining evaluation from a critical – or evaluative – perspective, each contribution in this book offers a systematic and critical insight into the broader relationship between evaluation and society. Divided into three parts, the various chapters ask questions such as:

  • What are the consequences of the institutionalization of evaluation?
  • Has the professionalization of evaluators favored their action in the public interest? 
  • Is the money spent on evaluation worth it? 
  • Is the market of evaluation allowing real competition for the best services? 

The answers to these questions demonstrate that the constitutive effects of the social practice of evaluation can also be the suppression of other forms of knowledge and the favoring of certain notions about societal development and political and administrative processes.


'From its early roots in the 1960’s evaluation has emerged as a well developed international profession. But, is it? As evaluators we typically ask questions like: "What has been accomplished?"; "Where are we?". Yet we have failed to ask these same questions of ourselves as evaluators and of our profession. This book assembles an international lineup of eminent scholars who ably address these issues. This is a book that is well worth reading.' - Marvin C. Alkin, Emeritus Professor, University of California, Los Angeles

'A longstanding mantra of evaluation has been the admonition to speak truth to power. To do so we must speak truth to each other, truth about evaluation's strengths and weaknesses, achievements and shortcomings, exemplars and failures, past disappointments and future hopes. In short, we must speak truth to each other about all aspects of the evaluation enterprise. This book's contributors speak their truths. Listen well. Then formulate and speak yours.' - Michael Quinn Patton, author of Principles-Focused Evaluation: The GUIDE

Table of Contents

Preface: The Evaluation Enterprise, Or Evaluation as An Enterprise

[Nicoletta Stame And Jan-Eric Furubo]

Part 1: From Program Evaluation to The Evaluation Society

1. Understanding the Evaluation Enterprise

[Jan-Eric Furubo]

2. The Politics / Administration Dichotomy and Evaluation

[Nicoletta Stame]

3. The Skeptical Turn in Evaluation

[Peter Dahler-Larsen]

Part 2: The Evaluation Enterprise

4. From Law to Reality: A Critical View on The Institutionalization of Evaluation in The Swiss Canton of Geneva’s Parliament

[Katia Horber-Papazian and Christian Rosser]

5. Evaluation Overload and Evaluation Underload

[Rolf Sandahl]

6. Accountability’s Two Solitudes and the Questions It Raises: Accountability to Whom? By Whom? And for What?

[Burt Perrin]

7. Italian Evaluation Policy: Centralization and Judicially-Enforced Accountability

[Mita Marra]

Part 3: The Management of The Enterprise

8. Getting Value for Money? A Critical Analysis of The Costs and Benefits of Evaluation

[Kim Forss]

9. The Journey to A Professional Designation for Evaluators in Canada

[Marie-Helene Adrien And Lauren-Victoria Hellrung]

10. The Concerted Effort to Professionalize Evaluation Practice: Whither Are We Bound?

[Thomas A. Schwandt]

11. The Commercial Side of Evaluation: Evaluation as An Industry and As a Professional Service

[Steffen Bohni Nielsen, Sebastian Lemire, And Christina A. Christie]

Conclusion: Towards A Better Understanding of The Evaluation Enterprise

[Jan-Eric Furubo And Nicoletta Stame]

About the Editors

Jan-Eric Furubo has worked at different Swedish ministries, governmental agencies and The National Audit Office. He was co-editor of the International Atlas of Evaluation (2002), Evaluation – Seeking Truth or Power? (2011) and Evaluation in Turbulent Times (2013). He was the first president of the Swedish Evaluation Society and has had different roles within the European Evaluation Society.

Nicoletta Stame retired as Professor of Social Policy at "Sapienza" University, Rome. She was the first president of the Italian Evaluation Association and is a past president of the European Evaluation Society. She is associate editor of Evaluation. She is interested in the theory and methods of evaluation, on which she has published widely.

About the Series

Comparative Policy Evaluation

The Comparative Policy Evaluation series is an interdisciplinary and internationally focused set of books that embodies within it a strong emphasis on comparative analyses of governance issues—drawing from all continents and many different nation states.  The lens through which these policy initiatives are viewed and reviewed is that of evaluation.  These evaluation assessments are done mainly from the perspectives of sociology, anthropology, economics, policy science, auditing, law, and human rights. Thebooks also provide a strong longitudinal perspective on the evolution of the policy issues being analyzed.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Affairs & Administration
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / General