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The Impact of Politics on Program Evaluation Research Paper

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Updated: Nov 25th, 2021


Program Evaluation is the sphere in which the political approach gains its proper understanding. Evaluating something an individual needs to have an imagination of the etalon with which it is appropriate to compare. In this respect Rieper & Toulemonde (1996) analyze in their research the significance of the key concept of the discussion provided in the paper in terms of evaluation practices sharing for state and local governments. His respect it is vital to work out the idea of the influence from the side of politics on the evaluation programs and vice versa. The thing is that in the contemporary world the urge for detailed estimation of the legal and economical bases for political issues guarantees impeccable future for the community, society, and nation on the whole. Reducing impact of politics on the programs makes better and sufficient work of an evaluator possible.


First of all, it is vital to mention that in this section the whole picture as of the politics and its aspects is emphasized. It is known that the political approach in developed countries should be well-planned, prepared, and controlled since the beginning till the end of the program. In this case the necessity of the particular steps in this process is estimated to be one of the key elements in the provided discussion. Political considerations influence the publicity in terms of supposed effects. Evaluating the start and further progression of the program evaluators venture to make possible assumptions as for the current stage of the development and its backwash in the past.

It is helpful then to realize the importance of the subject matter in order to provide actions supported by primordial theoretical background. It is fair to admit that the spheres of economic and political affairs are interrelated due to the main roles of each side. Thereupon, politics is the domain where decision making is presupposed with regulatory principles being agreed among a definite council, so that to drive further development in the sphere of straightforward implementation of the program. This prospect is even more important when noting the significance of finding consensual decisions among main participants in the process of program evaluation: “Utilization is similarly focused on the use of program evaluation by federal actors – Parliament, ministers, deputy ministers, or federal-level program managers” (Rieper & Toulemonde, 1996, p. 82). Thus, the significance of politics can be understood due to the implementation of evaluator’s role. The tendency of current policy-making and provision of political ideals for the well-being of the society are supposed with the evaluation ideals. What is more, nowadays the ethical approach is highly preferred for the success of the program evaluation (Royse et al, 2009).

For the purpose of pointing out the mutual influences maintained in the relation of politics and evaluation of programs this section provides the description of the evaluator’s actions for making the direct research in the field of politics and social relations. Though, the role of an evaluator is concerned with the analytical way of thinking and comprehending of the information, the idea of the evaluator’s applicable training in the logical steps for completion of the program evaluation falls into several steps. Edwards et al (2003) see the way for reduction of the politics impact on the program evaluation through five steps, namely:

  1. One-on-one meetings with stakeholders:
  2. Expectation and designing of territorial manifestations with elements of resistance;
  3. Choosing correct information;
  4. Provide constructive relations with a senior executive;
  5. Cooperate with other senior executives.

Here the reverse impacts of the evaluation of program are displayed to be viable toward politics. The urge of an evaluator to find out the mechanism for optimal decision making mechanisms is considered to be prior. It is due to the regulations provided by the experience and gains of the profession for the last twenty years. In this respect Weiss (1993) supports the presupposition of reciprocal influence between the sides of politics and evaluation programs in the following statement: “Knowing that political constraints and resistance exist is not a reason for abandoning evaluation research; rather, it is a precondition for usable evaluation research” (94). Nevertheless, the significance of the prerequisites for the evaluation is concerned with the straightforward goals of it. In fact, according to Patton (1997) the evaluation of program is determined as the particular extent to which the program objectivities attain their goals. Thus, the initial direction toward goals achievement should be implemented in the political research.

On the other hand, the use of correct means for evaluation promotes the ability for an evaluator to feel free in making attempts in defining the main aspects of politics participating in this or that program. Working out this particular aspect of the paper it is vital to have an idea of where politics and program evaluation collide in reciprocal interests. This thought needs further framework with authoritative support. A tripartite unity of the whole picture of program evaluation and politics in their reciprocal attitudes is maintained and greatly developed in the practical use of both mechanisms for social and statistical domains. In other words, both parties in the discussion are devoted to the idea of decision making for the materialization of planned values or approaches. Weiss (1993) characterizes these three sides where both elements confront, because 1) programs and their evaluation touch upon the political creatures; 2) reports on evaluation promote specific statistical data on political issues; 3) the political stance is incorporated in the evaluation.

Nonetheless, the tandem of both politics and program evaluation is solely possible when both embody related themes and urges. In other words, the insight in the field of evaluation work provides grounds for supposed corrections in provided politics. From the other side of the discussion, the role of politics is vital for program evaluation, because otherwise there will be no base for applicable reporting with particular conclusions about the tendencies or trends of politics on the current stage of time. The perspectives for the analysis and evaluation of political relations give birth for afterward discussion. Thus, the dynamics is apparent between two concepts. Patton (1997) understands suchlike mutuality and interaction of two elements in terms of the historical background provision, namely:

If powerful constituents want the program, or if more is to be gained politically by support for, rather than opposition to, the program, then the program is judged worthwhile; no other evidence of program effectiveness is needed, although data may be sought to support this predetermined political judgement (26).

Efficiency and effectiveness of the program evaluation are considered to be the results of positive approach toward the political dimension in the social affairs. The circling character of economic, social, and political fields seems to be united due to the evaluation programs. In fact, it gives the grounds for the analysis of the current in comparison to previous situation. The conditions for living and the quality of life depend on the rationality and conscientiousness in the policy provided throughout a definite locality. Thus, the awareness of the benefits which can be obtained from the reports on program evaluation make the policy more related to this approach. In other words, the impacts of the evaluation itself are felt when the reflections on it appear in the society and in the domain of politics.


To sum up, the paper represents the analysis of the impacts which politics makes on the program evaluation and vice versa. Thus, the results of the discussion provided showed that two constituents are worth discussing in their mutual nature as of theoretical as well as practical domains. This is why it is fair to notice that the main influences are based on the work of an evaluator and his/her primordial approach and motivation. On the other hand, the ability of politics to adequately react on the program’s points being estimated critically serves as the background for efficiency and effectiveness in the bilateral process. Accuracy of evaluation states further implementation of practical attitudes of the representatives in political sphere. From the other side the evaluation needs to have pieces of information about politics, because this particular sphere is full of probable hidden mechanisms of an illegal character. All in all, both components promoted in the paper serve as the regulatory and executive means for the goal of societal and national well-being provision.


Edwards, J. E., Scott, J. C., & Raju, N. S. (2003). The human resources program-evaluation handbook. New York: SAGE.

Patton, M. Q. (1997). Utilization-focused evaluation: the new century text (3rd ed.). New York: SAGE.

Rieper, O. & Toulemonde, J. (1997). Politics and practices of intergovernmental evaluation. Piscataway, NJ: Transaction Publishers.

Royse, D., Thyer, B. A. & Padgett, D. (2009). Program Evaluation: An Introduction (5th ed.). Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning.

Weiss, C. H. (1993). “Where Politics and Evaluation Research Meet.” Evaluation Practice. 14(1), 94.

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