Changing Stakeholder Needs and Changing Evaluator Roles: The Central Valley Partnership of the James Irvine Foundation

by Martha Campbell; Michael Quinn Patton; Patricia Patrizi

Apr 28, 2003
This case study describes the evolution of the evaluator's role as the program evolved and developed, and as the needs of the client and intended users changed over time. The initiative aimed to assist immigrants in California's Central Valley. The case illustrates important tensions among accountability, learning and capacity building purposes of evaluation.
  • For multi-dimensional programs with goals that are of vital social importance, but which are complex and dynamic and which take time to become clear and "evaluatable", the picture of change is anything but straightforward.
  • The roles of planner and/or evaluator often merge in thorny ways with those of organizational development resource and advocate.
  • One of the most highly collaborative ways of working with stakeholders in a design team setting is "developmental evaluation"" (Patton, 1994, 2002). The developmental evaluator becomes part of the program design team or an organization's management team, not apart from the team or just reporting to the team, but fully participating in decisions and facilitating discussion about how to evaluate whatever happens.
  • In developmental evaluation all team members, together, interpret evaluation findings, analyze implications and apply results to the next stage of development.
  • The purpose of developmental evaluation is to help develop the intervention; the evaluator is committed to improving the intervention and uses evaluative approaches to facilitate ongoing program, project, product, staff and organizational development.
  • The developmental evaluator's primary function in the team is to elucidate team discussions with evaluative questions, data and logic, and to facilitate data-based decision-making in the developmental process.
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