Developmental Evaluation: Applying Complexity Concepts to Enhance Innovation and Use

Michael Quinn Patton

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Developmental evaluation (DE) offers a powerful approach to monitoring and supporting social innovations by working in partnership with program decision makers. In this book, eminent authority Michael Quinn Patton shows how to conduct evaluations within a DE framework. Patton draws on insights about complex dynamic systems, uncertainty, nonlinearity, and emergence. He illustrates how DE can be used for a range of purposes: ongoing program development, adapting effective principles of practice to local contexts, generating innovations and taking them to scale, and facilitating rapid response in crisis situations. Students and practicing evaluators will appreciate the book’s extensive case examples and stories, cartoons, clear writing style, “closer look” sidebars, and summary tables. Provided is essential guidance for making evaluations useful, practical, and credible in support of social change.

Table of contents 

Cover Page……Page 1
Title Page……Page 4
Copyright Page……Page 5
Dedication Page……Page 6
Preface……Page 8
Acknowledgments……Page 9
List of Exhibits……Page 20
Contents……Page 16
1. Developmental Evaluation Defined and Positioned……Page 24
The Distinction Emerges……Page 25
Facing Complexity and Facing Reality: Or, Facing the Realities of Complexity……Page 27
Developmental Evaluation and Complexity Theory……Page 30
Developmental Evaluation and Single-Loop
versus Double-Loop Learning……Page 34
The Importance of Interpretive Frameworks……Page 35
Developmental Evaluation as Utilization-Focused……Page 36
Charting the Developmental Journey: Overview of the Book……Page 40
Five Developmental Evaluation Purposes and Uses……Page 44
2. Developmental Evaluation as a Distinct Purpose and Niche……Page 51
Beyond Planning: Jumping into the Fire……Page 52
Vision Encounters Reality: The Territory of Developmental Evaluation……Page 53
Systems Issues: Boundary Management as a Developmental Evaluation Focus……Page 57
Developing Innovations versus Improving and Testing Models: Developmental Evaluation Distinguished from Formative and Summative Evaluation……Page 59
Ongoing Development Informed by Developmental Evaluation……Page 64
Strategic Thinking and Developmental Evaluation……Page 65
The Niche of Developmental Evaluation: Chapter Overview
and Summary……Page 74
Creative Evaluation……Page 76
Of Plums and Prunes……Page 77
History and Biography as Context: The Personal Factor……Page 78
More History and Biography as Context……Page 81
Developmental Evaluation in Context……Page 83
External Evaluators and Developmental Evaluation……Page 87
Ten Key Points about Developmental Evaluation Illustrated
by the Caribbean Example……Page 98
Fundamental Principles……Page 82
Detecting Patterns……Page 103
Detecting Complexity as a Distinct Pattern and Territory for Inquiry……Page 104
A Situation Recognition Heuristic: Distinguishing Simple, Complicated,
and Complex……Page 107
Situational Evaluation: Implications for Practice……Page 120
Variations on a Theme: The Cynefin Framework……Page 129
5. Systems Thinking and Complexity Concepts
for Developmental Evaluation……Page 134
From Train Brakeman to Locomotive Engineer to Evaluation
Champion……Page 135
Project SleepBetter……Page 138
Systems Thinking……Page 140
Complexities of Complexity……Page 145
Useful Complexity Constructs for Developmental Evaluation……Page 147
Complexity-SensitizingConcepts……Page 169
6. How the World Is Changed: A Dialectic with Thesis and Antithesis
and Developmental Evaluation as the Synthesis……Page 175
Competing Perspectives on How the World Is Changed……Page 176
The Top-Down Approach……Page 178
Adaptation versus Replication: Principles for Developmental
Evaluation……Page 183
From the Grassroots to the Adaptive Middle……Page 190
Alternative Approaches to Change……Page 199
Developmental Evaluation: The Action in the Muddled Middle……Page 200
Looking Back and Looking Forward……Page 207
Appendix 6.1. Positioning and Contrasting Developmental Evaluation
with Other Evaluation Approaches……Page 210
7. The Adaptive Cycle and Developmental Evaluation……Page 212
Some Context for Understanding the Adaptive Cycle: Poetry, Ecology,
Sociology, Business, and Evaluation……Page 213
The Complexity Doorframe Redux……Page 216
Five Developmental Evaluation Purposes and Uses……Page 217
Resilience and Developmental Evaluation……Page 219
A Strategic Approach to Resilience: Engineering Resilience
versus Ecosystem Resilience……Page 221
The Adaptive Cycle……Page 225
The Adaptive Cycle and Psychosocial Regimes……Page 227
Evaluation and the Adaptive Cycle……Page 229
Through the Looking Glass of the Adaptive Cycle: Examples of
Organizational and Program Cycles……Page 233
Transitions and Traps……Page 235
Taking an Innovation to Scale: Challenges and Traps
in Cross-Scale Change……Page 241
Panarchy: Cross-Scale Interactions……Page 243
Panarchy-Informed
Evaluation: The Fact of a Doorframe……Page 246
8. Developmental Evaluation Inquiry Frameworks……Page 250
Frameworks for Developmental Evaluation Inquiry……Page 251
Developmental Evaluation Inquiry Frameworks: Ten and Counting . . …….Page 284
9. Developmental Evaluation Bricolage: Reflective Practice,
Sensitizing Concepts, Action Research, Abduction, Systems Change, and Retrospective Developmental Evaluation……Page 287
Reflective Practice for Developmental Evaluation Inquiry
and Engagement……Page 288
Sensitizing Concepts as a Focus for Reflective Practice
and Developmental Evaluation……Page 293
Kia ora……Page 297
Intersections of Developmental Evaluation and Action Research:
A Distinguished Evaluation Pioneer Reflects……Page 303
Reasoning and Developmental Evaluation……Page 306
In Praise of Methodological Diversity and Appropriateness:
A Methods and Tools Rant……Page 311
Retrospective Developmental Evaluation……Page 317
Damiano’s Retrospective Developmental Evaluation……Page 321
Developmental Evaluation Bricolage……Page 326
10. Utilization-Focused
Developmental Evaluation: Engagement Practices, Diverse Designs, and Adaptive Methods……Page 328
Different Kinds of Developmental Evaluation……Page 329
Diversity of Design and Methods Options……Page 330
Ten Utilization-Focused
Developmental Evaluation Design Examples……Page 338
Developmental Evaluation Engagement, Design,
and Methods Summary……Page 356
The First Developmental Evaluation: A Creation Story……Page 360
References……Page 364
Author Index……Page 378
Subject Index……Page 384
About the Author……Page 398

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