Evaluation 8(4) Codifying evaluation knowledge in this way facilitates learning (‘vicarious learning’) and the ‘mise en valeur’ of evaluations, using them as sources of insights for the design of interventions in similar contexts. Thus, the stock of evaluations could be a source of relevant ideas about effective actions, facilitating the process of learning from positive and negative experiences. If evaluations are conducted with this aim in mind, they can be readily used in this way. Otherwise, it could still be possible, at least for a subset of these evaluations, to codify them using a ‘realist’ framework (Feinstein, 1998). This implies making the context of application explicit, to facilitate the use of evaluations as a source through which to identify effective interventions in similar contexts.
Conclusions The key messages of this article are: 1. the value of evaluations depends on their use; 2. the use of evaluations should not be taken for granted; and 3. there are several things that can be done to promote greater and better use of evaluations. One of them is to develop a conceptual framework to guide our analysis of evaluation use and our actions that aim to improve it. The goal of this article has been to provide a simple and practical framework for this purpose.
Note 1. This article is a revised version of a keynote speech delivered at the IVth Annual Meeting of the Italian Evaluation Association. I wish to thank Nicoletta Stame for encouraging me to prepare this article, Luca Meldolesi for triggering the thoughts that led to a new section on the ‘possibilist’ approach, Frans Leeuw for his comment on ‘vicarious learning’ and Mita Marra for our dialogue on these issues.
References Caracelli, V. J. and H. Preskill (eds) (2000) The Expanding Scope of Evaluation Use, New Directions for Evaluation 88. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Feinstein, O. N. (1998) ‘Review of “Realistic Evaluation” ’ , Evaluation 4(2): 243–6. Gladwell, M. (2000) The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference. New York and London: Little, Brown and Company. Ingram, G. K. and O. N. Feinstein (2001) ‘Learning from Evaluation: The World Bank’s Experience’, Evaluation Insights 3(1): 4–6. Kirkhart, K. E. (2000) ‘Reconceptualizating Evaluation Use: An Integrated Theory of Influence’, in V. J. Caracelli and H. Preskill (eds) The Expanding Scope of Evaluation Use, New Directions for Evaluation 88, pp. 5–23. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. McCloskey, D. N. (1994) Knowledge and Persuasion in Economics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Marra, M. (2000) ‘How Much Does Evaluation Matter?’, Evaluation 6(1): 22–36. Moore, M. H. (1995) Creating Public Value. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
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Use of Evaluations and the Evaluation of their Use