Policy Evaluation

How do we know what worked? How “independent” are the evaluators?  They may not be directly employed (and therefore sackable), but if they are on contract, then they want to get more contracts in future, so they will soft-pedal the criticism, probably….

But this is all about blame avoidance and promises that (non-specific) lessons have been learnt.

See also “Fantasy Documents“, Thomas Birkland’s excellent suggestion…

See also “Successful Failure” by Wolfgang Seibel

Ceremonial inspection and evaluation.-All organizations, even those maintaining high levels of confidence and good faith, are in environments that have institutionalized the rationalized rituals of inspection and evaluation. And inspection and evaluation can uncover events and deviations that undermine legitimacy. So institutionalized organizations minimize and ceremonialize inspection and evaluation.

(Meyer and Rowan, 1977:359)

Meyer J and Rowan, B. 1977. Institutionalized organizations. Formal structure as myth and ceremony. American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 83, pp. 340-362.


Actions are more likely to be appraised as good if they are consistent with past behaviours, harmonize with current behaviours, resemble the practices prevailing in other organizations, use capabilities and talents that are going to waste, match the values of top management, reinforce the current power structure, or look like fun. The appraisal criteria change little, if at all, from problem to problem; whereas the choice criteria include some that express the needs of specific times and situations.

(Starbuck, 1982:18)  Starbuck, W. 1982. Congealing Oil: Inventing Ideologies to justify acting ideologies out. Journal of Management Studies, Vol. 19, (1), pp. 3-27.

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