An Assessment of the Theoretical Underpinnings of Practical Participatory Evaluation

This article is concerned with the underpinnings of practical participatory evaluation (PPE). Evaluation approaches have long been criticized because their results are often not used. It is believed that PPE addresses this drawback. The article focuses on the mechanisms underlying the links between activities and consequences in PPE. A PPE theory is proposed, based on learning theories and knowledge transfer theories, which comprises four key concepts and three hypotheses. The key concepts are interactive data production, knowledge coconstruction, local context of action, and instrumental use. The hypotheses articulate the relationships between these concepts. The article provides theoretical and empirical evidence to support the hypotheses discussed and present a framework for the proposed PPE theory. The importance of practitioner knowledge and participation in the PPE process in enhancing the use of results is partially supported by the literature. In general, it seems that the support is more theoretical than empirical.

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American Journal of Evaluation
United States