Framing purposeful evaluation through critical systems thinking

Reynolds, Martin (2007). Framing purposeful evaluation through critical systems thinking. In: Rural Development for the XXIInd Congress of the European Society for Rural Sociology, 20-24 Aug 2007, Wageningen, The Netherlands.



Two traditions of practice – evaluation and systems – share three significant concerns regarding development intervention: (i) making sense of complex interrelationships and the continual change brought about by such relationships; (ii) engaging with multiple (including exogenous and endogenous), often conflicting, perspectives on situations; and (iii) challenging vicious cycles of practice and understanding by cultivating a more radical learning culture. These challenges might be described successively in terms of cultivating a shift from (i) summative to formative evaluation (ii) positional bargaining to interest based negotiation, and (iii) purposive to purposeful action. Some ideas from traditions of social learning and critical systems thinking are presented to support a re-framing of intervention and evaluation from one serving the 'project state' towards one serving more radical transformative practice.

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