Stakeholders and Evaluation

Chapter 12 & 13

Questions 1 & 2

12.1: Why is it important to consider all of the different stakeholders and audiences for an evaluation?  Which groups do you think are typically viewed as most important?  Which are most likely to be neglected?  How could ignoring these latter groups lead to a problem?

13.2: As we discussed, evaluators and stakeholders bring different types of expertise to identifying evaluation questions and developing the evaluation plan. Contrast the knowledge evaluators bring to the table with that of stakeholders.  Consider particular stakeholder groups and how their expertise can best be used in the evaluation.

Many of the review/discussion questions provided by this book focus on stakeholders.  I will address two questions in this post, and try to express my ideas about using stakeholders in evaluations.

I think it is important to include stakeholders because of the expertise they bring to the table.  Their expertise is different from that of an evaluator, who knows how to manage various groups; compile important questions; collect, analyze, and interpret data; and present findings in a coherent and useful manner.  The stakeholders may not excel in most of these areas.  However, they do have expertise in the project itself.  They are stakeholders because of their stake, and thus expertise, in that project.  They will understand the contextual issues much better than an evaluator, especially if that evaluator comes from outside the organization.  They will have information – both tacit and explicit – about the program that can affect an evaluation.  Moreover, stakeholders know what they want from the program, although their interests may need to be clarified by the evaluator, and likely will have to be balanced against the interests of other stakeholders.

If we don’t pay attention to these stakeholder interests right from the beginning, as questions and evaluation focus are established, the evaluation runs the very real risk of being pointless, useless.  If the stakeholders, those that will actually use or implement or fund the program, are not heeded, why would they heed results of an evaluation that does not address their needs, wants, and knowledge?

References

Fitzpatrick, J., Sanders, J., & Worthen, B.  (2011). Program Evaluation: Alternative Approaches and Practical Guidelines.  4th edition.  New Jersey: Pearson Education.

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