Title

Disorderly Progress on the Frontiers of Policy Evaluation

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

1-2001

Publication Title

International Journal of Public Administration

Volume

24

Issue

1

First Page

95

Last Page

123

Abstract

Cantankerous conflicts and debilitating debates characterize the disorderly development of policy evaluation. The clashes over methods, paradigms, and purposes have been so severe that no approach or idea has avoided criticism. This article reviews the turbulent history of evaluation from its multiple roots to its acceptance as an essential tool of contemporary public management. Next, the article examines the war between constructivists and positivists over methodology as well as the puzzling games played in the search for consensus over the purpose(s) of evaluation. The article concludes with a discussion of the future of policy evaluation from the perspective of democratic public management. Several vital issues glossed over by the previous debates are identified.

The article ends with an appeal for evaluators to devote less time to methodological and paradigmatic infighting and more time to the solution of these other problems more directly related to the administration and improvement of public programs.