Informing Evaluation Capacity Building Through Profiling Organizational Capacity for Evaluation: An Empirical Examination of Four Canadian Federal Government Organizations

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According to the literature published on the topic, the development of an organization's capacity to do and use evaluation typically follows four stages: traditional evaluation, characterized by externally mandated evaluation activities; awareness and experimentation, during which organizational members learn about evaluation and its benefits by participating in a number of evaluation-related activities; evaluation implementation, the stage at which the role of evaluation is more clearly defined in the organization; and evaluation adoption, which occurs when evaluative inquiry becomes a regular and ongoing activity within the organization through the allocation of continued financial and human resources. In this article we argue that this perspective is oversimplified and that it is essential to understand the complexity of an organization's evaluation capacity in order to better understand how it might proceed with evaluation capacity building (ECB). We present an analysis of four Canadian federal government organizations' self-assessment of their organizational evaluation capacity using a profile conceptual framework developed as part of our larger study. We then integrate the resulting multidimensional profiles of observed levels of organizational evaluation capacity with the aforementioned stages of ECB to provide added value in thinking about the direction of organizational ECB.

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