Dialogue The Case for Participatory Evaluation in an Era of Accountability


Evaluation occurs within a specific context and is influenced by the economic, political, historical, and social forces that shape that context. The culture of evaluation is thus very much embedded in the culture of accountability that currently prevails in public sector institutions, policies, and program. As such, our understanding of the reception and use of participatory approaches to evaluation must include an understanding of the practices of new public management and of the concomitant call for accountability and performance measurement standards that currently prevail. In this article, the author discusses how accountability has been defined and understood in the context of government policies, programs, and services and provides a brief discussion of participatory and collaborative approaches to evaluation and the interrelationship between participatory evaluation and technical approaches to evaluation. The main part of the article is a critical look at key tensions between participatory and technocratic approaches to evaluation. The article concludes with a focus on the epistemological and cultural implications of the current culture of public accountability

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