Evaluation that Empowers
: An iterative investigation of how organisations can become evaluation-minded

  • Lesley Greenaway

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Community Learning and Development


    This research grew out of my concern that the dominant discourse about evaluation in the UK limits how it is defined, recognised and practised. It is a discourse which primarily values performance, accountability, results and value for money. In this research, ‘Evaluation that Empowers’ (EtE) aims to present a different discourse about evaluation that recognises other voices within the evaluation mix. This perspective embraces a broader definition of evaluation where: learning and development are a priority, and where the roles of evaluator and participants are collaborative and mutually recognised.

    The purpose of this research was to explore, develop, test and refine the EtE theoretical model against the real-life evaluation experience and practice in organisations. The EtE Model develops the notion of ‘evaluation-mindedness’ as the capacity for an organisation to create a deep and sustainable change in how it thinks about and embeds evaluation practices into its day to day actions. The research used a theory building approach over four distinct iterative studies. The literature review provided a guiding framework for future empirical studies; the EtE Model was applied and refined in the context of a single longitudinal case study; and further literature provided a critical review of the EtE Model in relation to current Evaluation Capacity Building literature. Finally, the EtE Model was developed into an evaluative conversation (The EtE Toolkit) and was field tested in two organisations. Findings suggest that organisations benefited from staff and volunteers engaging in critical discussion and self-assessment of their evaluation practices. For one organisation, the EtE conversation highlighted broader organisational issues, another organisation planned to adapt the EtE process to support self-evaluation across its service teams, and for one participant an emerging story of professional development was generated.
    This research has made an original contribution to the theory and practice of evaluation by developing a model and toolkit for engaging key evaluation stakeholders in a process of critical review of evaluation policy and practice or a meta-evaluation of evaluation. It has explored and developed the concept of evaluation-mindedness which can be applied to organisations, teams and individuals.
    Date of Award2016
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorDivya Jindal-Snape (Supervisor) & Gaye Manwaring (Supervisor)


    • Evaluation
    • Participatory evaluation
    • Evaluation capacity building
    • Organisation development
    • Reflexivity
    • Empowerment

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