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Volume 30, 2015 - Special Issue

Editor's Remarks / Un mot du rédacteur

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v-vi
Editor's Remarks / Un mot du rédacteur

Introduction: Decolonizing International Development Evaluation

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237-247

Despite the recognition that evaluation is an intensely cultural practice (House, 1993) influenced by Western epistemological approaches to social inquiry, there seems to be little discussion in the literature about the broader implications of our practice in terms of highlighting the relevance (and location) of culture and cultural context in international development evaluation (Chouinard & Cousins, 2015). This is a significant Omission, particularly given the rather long history of Western colonialism in much of the developing world. In this Special Issue we raise some fairly fundamental questions about how culture is being conceptualized in international development contexts, and how and to what extent local, extremely marginalized, and Indigenous cultures are being included in the conVersation. Who is defining the parameters of what counts as legitimate discourse? More importantly, where is culture located in our definitions of evaluation as we continue to export and expand our methodological practices across the globe?

A Critical Exploration of Culture in International Development Evaluation

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248-276

In this article we provide a comprehensive review of 71 studies on evaluation in international development contexts published over the past 18 years. The primary purpose of the review is to explore how culture is being conceptualized and defined in international development contexts and how evaluation practitioners, scholars, and/or policymakers who work in international development evaluation frame the role of culture and cultural context in these settings. In this article we ask: How is culture framed in the international development evaluation literature? To what extent do descriptions of evaluation (design, processes, and outcomes) reflect other knowledge and value systems and perspectives? Whose values and world-views inform the evaluation design and methodology? How does the community's cultural context inform the evaluation methodology and methods used? Based on our analysis, we identify and discuss five themes: the manifestation of culture along a continuum from explicit to implicit, a cultural critique of participatory practice in international development, the limits of social constructivist epistemologies and representations of voice, evaluation as a cultural practice, and cultural engagement and the multifaceted evaluator role.

Getting to the Roots of Evaluation Capacity Building in the Global South: Multiple Streams Model to Frame the Agenda Status of Evaluation in Turkey

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277-295

A growing body of research is investigating the mechanisms to develop evaluation capacity in the Global South, but relatively little attention has been given to an equally important question: Under what conditions does the need to conduct and use evaluations for national decision making become a high priority on the governmental agenda? This article utilizes Kingdon's (2003) Multiple Streams Model to understand when and how evaluation is pushed higher on the public policy agenda in the Global South by using Turkey as a country case. Th is article argues that evaluation capacity building in the developing world may not be successful unless evaluation is indigenously elevated as a prominent item on the government's agenda. Turkey's case demonstrates evaluation's fleeting agenda status because evaluation as a policy solution has not yet become joined to a real problem despite the opening of a brief window of opportunity.

Lessons on Decolonizing Evaluation From Kaupapa Māori Evaluation

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296-312

Kaupapa Māori is literally a Māori way. It is a reclaiming by Māori (Indigenous peoples of Aotearoa New Zealand) of a future that is founded within a Māori worldview; a future where cultural knowledge and values inform understandings of and responses to Māori needs, priorities, and aspirations. Self-determination, cultural aspirations, and the importance of familial relationships and collectivity are among the central elements evident in Kaupapa Māori development initiatives. The culturally responsive evaluation of these initiatives builds upon traditional commitments to information management and the updating of Māori knowledge. Kaupapa Māori evaluation looks "inwards" to assess development on Māori terms, and "outwards" in a structural analysis of other facilitators of and barriers to that development. After more than 20 years of Kaupapa Māori evaluation, it is timely to ask what learning might helpfully be shared with other Indigenous peoples to support their desire for the culturally responsive evaluation of development initiatives they experience. A Kaupapa Māori evaluation lens will be described and then used to critique international development evaluation to facilitate decolonization. Audiences for this article include development efforts led by the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs within the South Pacific, and international development efforts led by organizations such as UNESCO that are developing equity evaluation approaches.

Decolonizing and Indigenizing Evaluation Practice in Africa: Toward African Relational Evaluation Approaches

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313-328

Efforts at making evaluation culturally relevant have become central to evaluation discourses globally. However, global attempts at culturally responsive practice have not succeeded in incorporating African voices. This article discusses African perspectives on decolonization and indigenization of evaluation. It further provides a description of an African relational evaluation paradigm as a basis for originating evaluation practices and theories rooted in African world views, and provides examples of evaluation studies that illustrate relational evaluation approaches. It makes claims for an African evaluation tree metaphor that features approaches to evaluation in Africa by African theorists.

A Cross-cultural Evaluation Conversation in India: Benefits, Challenges, and Lessons Learned

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329-343

Through a guided discussion, this article explores a five-year cross-cultural evaluation relationship comprising multiple projects involving an evaluator from Canada and a group of Indian colleagues working on educational reform in India. The initiative was funded through a multilateral consortium of donors and involved Western evaluation specialists working in collaboration with Indian colleagues to (a) develop evaluation capacity within the country and (b) produce evaluative knowledge about education quality initiatives associated with large-scale educational reform. This article is based on a conversation between the principal investigator from Canada and three Indian colleagues who had been involved in all phases of the work. It focuses on their respective perspectives and experiences, including the benefits obtained and the challenges encountered in the process of bridging Western and Indian knowledge systems. The article begins with background about the initiative and continues with a conversation among the participants about their cross-cultural evaluation experience. It concludes with an analysis of the issues that emerged and generation of lessons learned for evaluators interested in cross-cultural evaluation.

Considering the Social Determinants of Equity in International Development Evaluation Guidance Documents

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344-373

Several international development organizations have published equity-focused evaluation guidance documents to promote and meet an increased demand for equity-focused evaluation practice. Evaluating progress toward equity necessitates focusing on changes in the social determinants of equity (i.e., barriers and enabling factors). Thus, the purpose of this study is to describe how and the extent to which international development organizations recommend addressing the social determinants of equity in evaluation practice guidance documents. Implications for evaluation quality, cultural responsiveness, and the decolonization of evaluation are discussed and a summary of practical examples and guidance is presented.

A Transcultural Global Systems Perspective: In Search of Blue Marble Evaluators

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374-390

Ten dimensions of a core culture of evaluative inquiry are identified as themes that emerge from and cut across the diverse articles in this volume. Cross-cultural evaluation emerges as involving mixed methods; integrated epistemologies; politically and institutionally supporting indigenous peoples and cultures; framing cross-cultural intersections, interactions, and integration through an understanding and appreciation of complex ecologies; personal, relational, and institutional reflexivity; and transparent praxis at every level and throughout every aspect of evaluation. Enhancing the capacity of evaluators outside the industrialized world has been important, appropriate, and effective despite major challenges and resource limitations. However, evaluation capacity-building has focused at the nation-state level. Such a focus is important and necessary but inadequate to deal with global issues. The major problems the world faces today and into the future are global in nature. Building on the impressive developments in international and cross-cultural evaluation documented in this special issue of CJPE, the next step and the way forward is to treat the global system as the evaluand and to develop evaluators capable of undertaking transcultural global systems change evaluations. The implications of this new focus are discussed.

Book Reviews: Goodyear, L., Jewiss, J., Usinger, J., & Barela, E. (Eds.). (2014). Qualitative inquiry in evaluation: From theory to practice . San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. ISBN 978-0-470-44767-3.

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391-393

Book Reviews: Goodyear, L., Jewiss, J., Usinger, J., & Barela, E. (Eds.). (2014). Qualitative inquiry in evaluation: From theory to practice . San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. ISBN 978-0-470-44767-3.

Book Reviews: Hood, S., Hopson, R., & Frierson, H., (2015). Continuing the journey to reposition culture and cultural context in evaluation theory and practice. Charlotte, NC: Information Age. ISBN 978-162396935-6.

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394-396

Book Reviews: Hood, S., Hopson, R., & Frierson, H., (2015). Continuing the journey to reposition culture and cultural context in evaluation theory and practice. Charlotte, NC: Information Age. ISBN 978-162396935-6.