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date: 28 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The term “evaluation” encompasses a rich and dynamic set of approaches some of which are interesting counterpoints to the idea of a “happy marriage” between evaluation and new public management. The dual relation between evaluation and public management is reflected both in the content and in the design of this article. This article moves between the two, showing where they are in alignment, and where they are not. The first part of the article describes the evaluation wave, which has hit most western countries during the last decade or two. It shows that different explanations of the current interest in evaluation are possible, and that each type of explanation leads to different views on evaluation and different expectations about its promises and pitfalls. Next, it presents different approaches to evaluation. With the risk of unduly reducing the complexity of the field, the article argues that goal-oriented evaluation, theory-based evaluation, and responsive/participatory approaches to evaluation are useful labels to identify significant and often competing schools of thought in evaluation.

Keywords: evaluation, public management, new public management, goal-oriented evaluation, theory-based evaluation, participatory approach

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