Systems thinking and Equity-focused evaluations

Reynolds, Martin and Williams, Bob (2012). Systems thinking and Equity-focused evaluations. In: Segone, Marco and Bamberger, Michael eds. Evaluation for equitable development results. New York: UNICEF, pp. 115–141.


Questions about access to resources - who gets what? - ought not to be seen in isolation from related questions of power - who owns what? They also ought not to be seen in isolation from questions of knowledge and expertise - who does what? Moreover these questions relate to important questions regarding legitimacy - who gets affected by what some people get? Such questions are often more easily avoided in a normal evaluation for fear of the ethics and politics involved in addressing them. But such questions as formulated above also may not be easy to grasp or work with in terms of an approach to evaluating an intervention. To the systems thinker C. West Churchman (1913-2004), such ethical and political questions were profoundly important. It was Churchman's life-long task to surface the need to address such questions. One of the most significant insights offered by Churchman in order to address ethical issues was the need to engage meaningfully with different perspectives.

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