As few organizations have enough resources that they can pursue all evaluation questions of interest, the setting of priorities for evaluative work is a critical corporate function. Ideally, evaluation resources should be focused on studies that will most effectively advance the organization by pointing to potential for improved strategy or programming. Identifying what should be studied, and when, requires that the organization have clear feedback from stakeholders on program issues.
This paper describes the authors' experience in organizing bilingual evaluation case competitions for the National Capital Chapter of the Canadian Evaluation SOciety in 1996, 1997 and 1998. It covers the structure of competitions, eligibility rules, and the judging of student presentations. The authors also share lessons about recruiting contestants and preparing cases.
Stakeholder influence on program evaluations will vary with the importance of the program to target populations, their awareness of the evaluation exercise, and their perception of its likely impact. The organizational structure for evaluation within an institution provides a channel through which pressures exerted by stakeholders impinge directly upon the evaluation process. The author examines the evolution of the program evaluation structure within a federal government agency to illustrate the advantages and drawbacks of formalizing stakeholder involvement.