Developing a culture of evaluation and research

Developing a culture of evaluation and research

Overview

An organisation with a culture of evaluation and research is one that is committed to using research and evaluation findings to inform its decisions. With such a culture, organisational efforts to build effective evaluation and research activities are strengthened. This paper aims to provide practical information on the structures, practices and actions that support a change toward a strong culture of evaluation and research.

Key messages

  • Organisations with a culture of evaluation and research deliberately seek evidence in order to better design and deliver programs.

  • By fostering a strong evaluation and research culture, organisations can deliver evidence to stakeholders that programs are achieving desired results, enable robust decision-making and support professional development.

  • Tools are available to assess organisational readiness for cultural change. These tools help to identify structures and practices that work for and against an evaluation and research culture.

  • An assessment of the extent to which programs and services can be evaluated in a reliable and credible way helps to ensure evaluations are only carried out when necessary precursors (e.g., clearly defined program objectives) are in place.

  • A clear plan for cultural change is important. It needs to detail the organisational vision for evaluation and research, strategies for engaging stakeholders and ways to support change champions.

  • Professional development activities may be required to enable staff to do evaluations and research (whether conducting in-house projects or supporting external consultants) and to use evaluation and research findings to inform decision-making.

  • A range of organisational support systems enable and sustain cultural change. Adequate financial and human resources are vital. Organisations also need to ensure staff are accountable to outcomes, rewarded for participating in evaluation and research and able to document and access lessons learned from these activities.
Key messages: 

Organisations with a culture of evaluation and research deliberately seek evidence in order to better design and deliver programs.

By fostering a strong evaluation and research culture, organisations can deliver evidence to stakeholders that programs are achieving desired results, enable robust decision-making and support professional development.

Tools are available to assess organisational readiness for cultural change. These tools help to identify structures and practices that work for and against an evaluation and research culture.

An assessment of the extent to which programs and services can be evaluated in a reliable and credible way helps to ensure evaluations are only carried out when necessary precursors (e.g., clearly defined program objectives) are in place.

A clear plan for cultural change is important. It needs to detail the organisational vision for evaluation and research, strategies for engaging stakeholders and ways to support change champions.

Professional development activities may be required to enable staff to do evaluations and research (whether conducting in-house projects or supporting external consultants) and to use evaluation and research findings to inform decision-making.

A range of organisational support systems enable and sustain cultural change. Adequate financial and human resources are vital. Organisations also need to ensure staff are accountable to outcomes, rewarded for participating in evaluation and research and able to document and access lessons learned from these activities.

Jacqueline Stewart is a freelance consultant in social research.

The author wishes to acknowledge the valuable contributions of Alicia McCoy, Research and Evaluation Manager at Family Life.

The feature image is by David Joyce. CC BY SA 2.0.

CFCA Paper
28
17 pp.
ISSN: 
2200-4106
ISBN: 
978-1-922038-74-6