Equity-focused developmental evaluation using critical systems thinking

Reynolds, Martin (2012). Equity-focused developmental evaluation using critical systems thinking. In: 10th European Evaluation Society Biennial Conference: Evaluation in the networked society: new concepts, new challenges, new solutions, 3-5 Oct 2012, Helsinki.

URL: http://www.czech-in.org/EES/10th_EES_conference_pr...

Abstract

Developmental evaluation questions the ethical basis of an intervention in terms of whether it’s ‘doing the right thing’ rather than merely ‘doing things right’. But developmental evaluation invites a space for exploring not only ethical but also political issues associated particularly with equity-focused evaluations. Drawing on ideas from critical systems thinking (CST) and critical systems heuristics, an evaluation framework with a pro-equity focus is suggested. The framework addresses issues of complex interrelationships, invites theory of change associated with philosophical ethics, and provides a means of surfacing, and potentially transforming, debilitating relations of power in a complex evaluand. A case study of the long-standing Narmada project in India is used to illustrate the workings of proposed framework. The paper describes how the underpinning methodological ideas of CST incorporating triple-loop learning can enhance the practice of developmental evaluation.

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