By Graham Room
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Additional info for Cross-National Innovation in Social Policy: European Perspectives on the Evaluation of Action-Research
However, instead of seeing such projects as necessarily less susceptible to rigorous evaluation, it may be possible to specify a second ideal type of innovation and evaluation, potentially no less rigorous. This would be defined by contrast with the 'pilot experiment' and the two ideal types could then be used in combination to illuminate the methods and dilemmas encountered in practice by innovatory projects and their evaluators. The main task of the next section of this chapter is to elaborate the notion of the action-research project as an alternative ideal type.
22 Cross-National Innovation in Social Policy that the latter make clear his objectives and priorities and the costs he attaches to different inputs and to the side-effects associated with alternative strategies. Even this request is not, however, invariably met; and much of the literature involves the evaluators bemoaning the failure of their sponsors to meet these standards of clarity. Even worse, these sponsors frequently alter their objectives in midstream; the evaluators in their writings are therefore forced to debate what undertakings should be sought from policy-makers before a programme is initiated and how technically feasible it is to continue evaluation and monitoring when such reorientation occurs (see, for example, Wholey, 1981).
Public policies are shaped by a wider network of power holders and decision-makers at local, regional and national levels and, in the broadest sense, by popular assumptions about the generation and persistence of the problems concerned. These assumptions are not easily challenged and are themselves underpinned by the wider pattern of social, economic and political organisation in our advanced urban-industrial societies. In articulating its new paradigm of policy and practice, the action-research project must confront this broader audience also.
Cross-National Innovation in Social Policy: European Perspectives on the Evaluation of Action-Research by Graham Room