Realistic Evaluation shows how programme evaluation needs to be, and can be bettered. It presents a profound yet highly readable critique of current evaluation practice, and goes on to introduce a `manifesto' and `handbook' for a fresh approach.
The main body of this book is devoted to the articulation of a new evaluation paradigm, which promises greater validity and utility from the findings of evaluation studies. The authors call this new approach `realistic evaluation'. The name reflects the paradigm's foundation in scientific realist philosophy, its commitment to the idea that programmes deal with real problems rather than mere social constructions, and its primary intention, which is to inform realistic developm
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This is not to say that we have found no instances of success or partial success ;
it is only to say that these instances have been isolated , producing no clear
pattern to indicate the efficacy of any particular method of treatment . ( 1974 , p .
Most programs have this marriage of an organizational and an operational theory
, it being clear to policy makers in the present case that the key to success was
that a variety of different agencies would be needed to implement such measures
Methodological progress can actually be charted in much the same way as we
trace the success of a program . The same realist explanatory principles apply .
Our baseline argument throughout has been not that programs are ' things ' that ...