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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Understanding the dynamics of stakeholder participation in evaluation research : A document study Alex, Jacqueline Patricia Smit


Stakeholder participation in evaluation has become increasingly acceptable in evaluation practice as researchers strive to produce relevant and useful studies. However, evaluator understanding of the operational dynamics of participation is limited. This exploratory descriptive study qualitatively examined twelve documents comprising retrospective reviews or case studies of participatory attempts for the purpose of identifying the factors that contribute to effective stakeholder participation . The study explored the participatory dynamics, the mechanisms by which participation is operationalized, and the relational dynamics between researcher and stakeholder. Four factors for practice were significant: the participatory process should reinforce the genuineness of stakeholder participation, participation is enabled by attention to group process, successful participation cultivates a sense of ownership, and stakeholder involvement creates ready-for-use conditions among participants. Although collaboration was shown to be a complex process, the benefits to evaluations are significant. Evaluations which involve multiple stakeholders are more likely to be sensitive to local contexts and result in increased validity and utilization. The participation of stakeholders in evaluation has important implications for the evaluator1 s role in facilitating the group process and attending to varied stakeholder learning styles. Extensive planning and preparation by the researcher impacts the meaningfulness of participation for stakeholders. Beneficiary involvement was shown to present unique challenges to evaluators, especially in the areas of access to information and equity of participation. Stakeholder participation in evaluation has tremendous implications for social policy and social work practice. Elements of authentic participation in evaluation correspond to factors which legitimize participation in policy settings. By redefining their roles and skills, social workers can enable service recipients to have real impact in evaluations, in policy planning and program development, and in their own treatment plans.

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