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Governance and evaluation : the case of EU regional policy horizontal priorities

By Tony Gore and Peter Wells


This paper argues that the framing of many programme evaluations tends to eschew any rigorous exploration of the governance aspects of programme design and implementation. This is illustrated by an examination of the method-based approach endorsed by the European Commission for the evaluation of its regional policy programmes. In line with previous work, this found that such evaluations, particularly those using management-based approaches, underplay the role of social and political agency in programme framing and implementation, and therefore in explaining outcomes. Acknowledging such factors is especially important in evaluating cross-cutting themes such as equal opportunities, environmental sustainability and social inclusion. Known as horizontal priorities in European Union policies, such issues at their heart reflect unease with the traditional functional organisation of the modern state, which while providing organisational efficiency gains for planning, is not able to cater for complex and multiple social realities in a postmodern world. Using evidence from South Yorkshire, United Kingdom, and in particular the Mid Term Evaluation of the 2000–2006 European Union Structural Funds Programme, the paper argues that a robust evaluation of such horizontal priorities has to incorporate the full range of governance factors. This is because their framing, implementation and possible achievements are contingent on, and shaped by, the mobilisation of social and political actors

Publisher: Elsevier
Year: 2009
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