International Development, Community and Environment (IDCE)

Date of Award

12-2020

Degree Type

Practitioner Report

Degree Name

Master of Arts in International Development and Social Change (IDSC)

Department

International Development, Community and Environment

Chief Instructor

David Bell

Second Reader

Jude Fernando

Abstract

Voice, power, organizational politics, and evaluators’ worldview are in constant flux in social program evaluation. Every social program rolls out based on assumptions on a theory of change (TOC) while every evaluation is also guided by request for evaluation proposal (RFP) operationalized through an evaluation scope of work (SOW). The TOC and evaluation RFPs are likely to carry strong undercurrents of power and politics likely to limit the choice of evaluation methods, tools, and processes due to the prescriptive and compliance-inducing tone. Social program evaluator is in constant dilemma of negotiating rigor amidst pressure of compliance and evaluator subjective worldviews. The questions of what is evaluated, who is interviewed and who wields the power to allow or deny voice in evaluation reports is an iterative of power interplay process. This paper problematizes the tacit mutation of organizational power and politics in social program evaluation as it narrows and lockout evaluator choices. Through the lens of goal-free and goal-based evaluation methods, we contemplate a decolonizing of social program evaluation.

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