The pressures within: dilemmas in the conduct of evaluation from within government

Trimmer, Karen (2016) The pressures within: dilemmas in the conduct of evaluation from within government. In: Political pressures on educational and social research: international perspectives. Taylor & Francis (Routledge), Oxon, United Kingdom, pp. 180-191. ISBN 978-1-138-94712-2

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Government departments can be requested to conduct research on behalf of a Minister with a policy interest in a particular area. When there is a political imperative and particularly when a media announcement has been made, there can be ramifications for the rigor of the research and subsequently the interpretation of the results. This chapter examines the area of research and evaluation commissioned by and conducted within government departments in Australia. It then refers to two case study evaluations that broadly reviewed the effectiveness of programs in public schools in Australia where politics impacted on the development, conduct and reporting of the research. Through the first case study, the chapter explores problems for researchers within government departments when research methodology is imposed prior to the development of clearly defined research questions, resulting in methodology that is not rigorous and inadequate to meet the stated outcomes for the research project. Such problems impact on the veracity of the conclusions that may be drawn at the conclusion of the research. The second case study considers the complexity of providing a balanced interpretation of the results, including reporting of outcomes to government executives that are unsatisfactory or inconsistent with established or preferred policy directions. These dilemmas are explored from the perspective of a research manager employed by the department. The chapter concludes by discussing a range of strategies that may be employed by researchers and evaluators to counter political impact. Links are made to issues raised in preceding case study chapters and to theoretical chapters in section 1.

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Item Type: Book Chapter (Commonwealth Reporting Category B)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Access to Submitted version in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher.
Faculty / Department / School: Current - Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts - School of Linguistics, Adult and Specialist Education
Date Deposited: 20 Sep 2016 04:47
Last Modified: 15 Mar 2017 00:49
Uncontrolled Keywords: evaluation, performance review, politics, political pressures, political context, decision-making, power distribution, policy agora, rigorous methodology, empowerment evaluation, agreed measures, dissemination strategy, stakeholders
Fields of Research : 13 Education > 1301 Education Systems > 130103 Higher Education
13 Education > 1303 Specialist Studies in Education > 130304 Educational Administration, Management and Leadership
Socio-Economic Objective: C Society > 93 Education and Training > 9305 Education and Training Systems > 930501 Education and Training Systems Policies and Development
C Society > 93 Education and Training > 9305 Education and Training Systems > 930503 Resourcing of Education and Training Systems
C Society > 94 Law, Politics and Community Services > 9402 Government and Politics > 940204 Public Services Policy Advice and Analysis

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