The Open UniversitySkip to content

Towards Systemic Evaluation

Reynolds, Martin; Gates, Emily; Hummelbrunner, Richard; Marra, Mita and Williams, Bob (2016). Towards Systemic Evaluation. Systems Research and Behavioral Science, 33(5) pp. 662–673.

Full text available as:
PDF (Accepted Manuscript) - Requires a PDF viewer such as GSview, Xpdf or Adobe Acrobat Reader
Download (243kB) | Preview
DOI (Digital Object Identifier) Link:
Google Scholar: Look up in Google Scholar


Problems of conventional evaluation models can be understood as an impoverished ‘conversation’ between realities (of non-linearity, indeterminate attributes, and ever-changing context), and models of evaluating such realities. Meanwhile, ideas of systems thinking and complexity science—grouped here under the acronym STCS—struggle to gain currency in the big ‘E’ world of institutionalized evaluation. Four evaluation practitioners familiar with evaluation tools associated with STCS offer perspectives on issues regarding mainstream uptake of STCS in the big ‘E’ world. The perspectives collectively suggest three features of practicing systemic evaluation: (i) developing value in conversing between bounded values (evaluations) and unbounded reality (evaluand), with humility; (ii) developing response-ability with evaluand stakeholders based on reflexivity, with empathy; and (iii) developing adaptive rather than mere contingent use(fulness) of STCS ‘tools’ as part of evaluation praxis, with inevitable fallibility and an orientation towards bricolage (adaptive use). The features hint towards systemic evaluation as core to a reconfigured notion of developmental evaluation.

Item Type: Journal Item
Copyright Holders: 2016 John Wiley & Sons Ltd
ISSN: 1099-1743
Extra Information: Special Issue: Governing in the Anthropocene: Contributions from Systems Thinking in Practice?
Keywords: bricolage; complexity science; developmental evaluation; systemic evaluation; systems thinking
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) > Engineering and Innovation
Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)
Research Group: Innovation, Knowledge & Development research centre (IKD)
Item ID: 47426
Depositing User: Martin Reynolds
Date Deposited: 28 Sep 2016 15:49
Last Modified: 01 May 2019 10:42
Share this page:


Altmetrics from Altmetric

Citations from Dimensions

Download history for this item

These details should be considered as only a guide to the number of downloads performed manually. Algorithmic methods have been applied in an attempt to remove automated downloads from the displayed statistics but no guarantee can be made as to the accuracy of the figures.

Actions (login may be required)

Policies | Disclaimer

© The Open University   contact the OU