Main Article Content
Background: Excessive evaluation anxiety (XEA) refers to disproportionate or increased evaluation anxiety among those affected by evaluation (e.g., stakeholders) characterized by the sole presence of negative consequences. It can compromise evaluator-stakeholder relationships, presenting as a barrier for program evaluation. Moreover, XEA can both cause and be caused by resistance to evaluation, which is an interrelated topic that shares many common causes, characteristics, and mitigation strategies. The participatory and interactive nature of modern evaluation approaches can exacerbate the presence of XEA. However, researchers have not explored the current state of literature on XEA.
Purpose: To explore the current state of the literature on XEA over the past 20 years.
Setting: Not applicable.
Intervention: Not applicable.
Research Design: Literature review.
Data Collection and Analysis: We conducted a literature search of Academic Search Complete, Web of Science, and Scopus. We complemented the database search by a journal search of the American Journal of Evaluation, Evaluation, and the Canadian Journal of Program Evaluation. We then conducted a thematic analysis of the articles that met the inclusion criteria.
Findings: Upon review of the articles, we identified four main themes in the literature related to XEA. Specifically, XEA: leads to poor evaluator-stakeholder relationships; is influenced by cultural factors; can be mitigated through the development of interpersonal skills; and can be mitigated through a systematic and evidence-based approach to evaluation.
Keywords: Excessive evaluation anxiety, resistance to evaluation, program evaluation, evaluator-stakeholder relationships
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Copyright and Permissions
Authors retain full copyright for articles published in JMDE. JMDE publishes under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY - NC 4.0). Users are allowed to copy, distribute, and transmit the work in any medium or format for noncommercial purposes, provided that the original authors and source are credited accurately and appropriately. Only the original authors may distribute the article for commercial or compensatory purposes. To view a copy of this license, visit creativecommons.org
Abma, T. A. & Widdershoven, G. A. M. (2008). Evaluation and/as social relation. Evaluation, 14(2), 209–225. https://doi.org/10.1177/1356389007087540
Andrews, A. B. (2004). Start at the end: Empowerment evaluation product planning. Evaluation and Program Planning, 27(3), 275–285. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.evalprogplan.2004.04.002
Bechar, S. & Mero-Jaffe, I. (2013). Who is afraid of evaluation? Ethics in evaluation research as a way to cope with excessive evaluation anxiety: Insights from a case study. American Journal of Evaluation, 35(3), 364–376.
Carleton-Hug, A. & Hug, J. W. (2010). Challenges and opportunities for evaluating environmental education programs. Evaluation and Program Planning, 33(2), 159–164. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.evalprogplan.2009.07.005
Chaudhary, A. K., Diaz, J., Jayaratne, K. S. U., & Assan, E. (2020). Evaluation capacity building in the nonformal education context: Challenges and strategies. Evaluation and Program Planning, 79. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.evalprogplan.2019.101768
Conner, R. (2010). Reflections over 25 years: Evaluation then, now and into the future. Canadian Journal of Program Evaluation, 25(3), 125–136.
Davy, D. (2016). Anti-human trafficking interventions: How do we know if they are working? American Journal of Evaluation, 37(4), 486–504. https://doi.org/10.1177/1098214016630615
Donaldson, S. I. (2002). Theory-driven program evaluation in the new millennium. In S. I. Donaldson & M. Scriven (Eds.), Evaluating social programs and problems: Visions for the new millennium (1st ed., pp. 105–136). Routledge.
Donaldson, S. I., & Gooler, L. E. (2003). Theory-driven evaluation in action: Lessons from a $20 million statewide Work and Health Initiative. Evaluation and Program Planning, 26(4), 355–366. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0149-7189(03)00052-1
Donaldson, S. I., Gooler, L. E., & Scriven, M. (2002). Strategies for managing evaluation anxiety: Toward a psychology of program evaluation. American Journal of Evaluation, 23(3), 261–273.
Galport, N. & Azzam, T. (2016). Evaluator training needs and competencies: A gap analysis. American Journal of Evaluation, 38(1), 80–100.
Hanberger, A. (2011). The real functions of evaluation and response systems. Evaluation, 17(4), 327–349. https://doi.org/10.1177/1356389011421697
Le Menestrel, S. M., Walahoski, J. S., & Mielke, M. B. (2013). A partnership model for evaluation: Considering an alternate approach to the internal–external evaluation debate. American Journal of Evaluation, 35(1), 61–72. https://doi.org/10.1177/1098214013506600
Levin, G. (2003). Commentary: Roles, rewards, research, and realistic expectations. American Journal of Evaluation, 24(3), 413–418. https://doi.org/10.1177/109821400302400311
Leviton, L. C. (2013). Some underexamined aspects of evaluation capacity building. American Journal of Evaluation, 35(1), 90–94. https://doi.org/10.1177/1098214013502844
Lonsdale, J. (2008). Balancing independence and responsiveness: A practitioner perspective on the relationships shaping performance audit. Evaluation, 14(2), 227–248. https://doi.org/10.1177/1356389007087541
Mermet, L., Billé, R., & Leroy, M. (2010). Concern-focused evaluation for ambiguous and conflicting policies: An approach from the environmental field. American Journal of Evaluation, 31(2), 180–198. https://doi.org/10.1177/1098214010366047
Mihalache, R. (2009). Evaluation networking in Romania. Evaluation, 15(4), 473–482. https://doi.org/10.1177/1356389009345447
Mihalache, R. (2010). A developing evaluation culture in Romania: Myths, gaps and triggers. Evaluation, 16(3), 323–332. https://doi.org/10.1177/1356389010373019
Miller, R. L., McNall, M. A., & The Oral History Project Team. (2016). The oral history of evaluation: The professional development of William D. Crano. American Journal of Evaluation, 39(4), 596–611. https://doi.org/10.1177/1098214016673903
Patton, M. Q. (2002). A vision of evaluation that strengthens democracy. Evaluation, 8(1), 125–139. https://doi.org/10.1177/1358902002008001740
Patton, M. Q. (2015). Evaluation in the field: The need for site visit standards. American Journal of Evaluation, 36(4), 444–460. https://doi.org/10.1177/1098214015600785
Perrin, B. (2001). Commentary: Making yourself—and evaluation—useful. The American Journal of Evaluation, 22(2), 252–259. https://doi.org/10.1177/109821400102200209
Persaud, N. & Dagher, R. (2019). Evaluations in the English-speaking Commonwealth Caribbean region: Lessons from the field. American Journal of Evaluation, 41(2), 255–276.
Petrosino, A. (2000) Answering the why question in evaluation: The causal-model approach. Canadian Journal of Program Evaluation, 15(1), 1–24. https://www.utpjournals.press/doi/pdf/10.3138/cjpe.015.001
Raimondo, E. (2018). The power and dysfunctions of evaluation systems in international organizations. Evaluation, 24(1), 26–41. https://doi.org/10.1177/1356389017749068
Schewarz, C. & Struhkamp, G. (2007). Does evaluation build or destroy trust? Insights from case studies on evaluation in higher education reform. Evaluation, 13(3), 323–339. https://doi.org/10.1177/1356389007078625
Schwandt, T. & Dahler-Larsen, P. (2006). When evaluation meets the ‘rough ground’ in communities. Evaluation, 12(4), 496–505.
Scriven, M. (2016). Roadblocks to recognition and revolution. American Journal of Evaluation, 37(1), 27–44.
Seasons, M. (2002). Evaluation and municipal urban planning: Practice and prospects. Canadian Journal of Program Evaluation, 17(1), 43–71. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/234741545_Evaluation_and_Municipal_Urban_Planning_Practice_and_Prospects
Taut, S. M. & Alkin, M. C. (2003). Program staff perceptions of barriers to evaluation implementation. American Journal of Evaluation, 24(2), 213–226.
Taut, S. & Brauns, D. (2003). Resistance to evaluation: A psychological perspective. Evaluation, 9(3), 247–264. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/249743683_Resistance_to_Evaluation_A_Psychological_Perspective
Trevisan, M. S. (2002). Evaluation capacity in K–12 school counseling programs. American Journal of Evaluation, 23(3), 291–305. https://doi.org/10.1177/109821400202300305
Wasserman, D. L. (2010). Using a systems orientation and foundational theory to enhance theory-driven human service program evaluations. Evaluation and Program Planning, 33(2), 67–80. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.evalprogplan.2009.06.005
Whitehall, A. K., Hill, L. G., & Koehler, C. R. (2012). A comparison of participant and practitioner beliefs about evaluation. American Journal of Evaluation, 33(2), 208–220. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F1098214011423803