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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Program evaluation in context : models of negotiated knowledge production and use Levitan, Alberta Potter


Recent growth and co-optation of social reform programs into the structure of the State, and parallel development of public policymaking, have precipitated closer linkages between social research and the policy intervention process. Program evaluation refers to a variety of descriptive and analytical studies of program process and/or program impact. Two models of program evaluation research are relied upon in design and implementation of evaluation studies: (l) a conventional model derived from a positivist paradigm of social research and (2) an alternative model evolved from an interpretive paradigm. Critical review of these models suggests their complementarity for comprehensive evaluation studies, but emphasizes the extent to which they minimize the significance of larger political/ economic context of program development in shaping evaluation processes. The purpose of this dissertation has been to develop a wider selection of evaluation research models which specifically take into account construction of the research "product" and characteristics of the larger structural context in which such products are designed to be used. The theoretical strategy relies on aspects of Strauss' negotiated order paradigm and approaches to policy research taken by Rein and Wiseman, and involves an effort to relate more stable structural characteristics of the social, political, economic and organizational context of reform programs to a series of six basic areas of negotiation in the evaluation process. These include: (l) delineation of major actors; (2) organizational placement of program evaluation work; (3) choice of general research strategy; (k) selection of appropriate research model and methodology; (5) construction and content of research reports; and (6) planning for research utilization. This framework provided the theoretical perspective for description and analysis of four case studies: two in housing policy, one in private social service delivery and one in delivery of legal education services. Conclusions from case studies, and other research suggested four models of negotiated knowledge. New models include elements of positivist and interpretive models but are designed around the structural context of program planning and implementation and focus directly on the six basic areas of negotiation. This expanded repertoire of models of negotiated knowledge production and use have been labelled Experimental, Managerial, Collaborative, and Transformative.

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