Forms and Functions of Participatory Evaluation in International Development: A Review of the Empirical and Theoretical Literature

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Anne E. Cullen
Chris L. S. Coryn

Abstract

Background: Since the late 1970s participatory approaches have been widely promoted to evaluate international development programs. However, there is no universal agreement of what is meant by participatory evaluation.  For some evaluators, participatory evaluations involve the extensive participation of all stakeholder groups (from donor to non-recipients) in every phase of the evaluation (from design to dissemination). For others, the participation of donors in the design constitutes a participatory evaluation approach. Participatory evaluation approaches are best considered on a continuum. In other words, there are many gradations to participation and evaluations should be classified accordingly. 

Purpose: The lack of shared meaning of participatory evaluation approaches also impedes serious discussion on their use including their merits and demerits, suggestions for their improvement, and their overall effectiveness. The purpose of this article is to present an examination of the literature on participatory evaluation approaches to highlight commonalities and differences.

Setting: Not applicable

Intervention: Not applicable.

Research Design: Not applicable.

Data Collection and Analysis: Desk review.

Findings: This article clearly demonstrates how broadly participatory evaluation is conceptualized and practiced and underscores the clear need for specification and precision when discussing what is meant by participatory evaluation. Recommendations for how evaluators should describe participatory evaluations are provided.

Keywords: participatory evaluation; collaborative evaluation; empowerment evaluation; stakeholder-based evaluation

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How to Cite
Cullen, A. E., & Coryn, C. L. S. (2011). Forms and Functions of Participatory Evaluation in International Development: A Review of the Empirical and Theoretical Literature. Journal of MultiDisciplinary Evaluation, 7(16), 32–47. Retrieved from https://journals.sfu.ca/jmde/index.php/jmde_1/article/view/288
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