In part these strains can be eliminated or minimized

This preview shows page 444 - 446 out of 549 pages.

stakeholders. In part, these strains can be eliminated or minimized by anticipating and planning for them; in part, they come with the turf and must be dealt with on an ad hoc basis or simply accepted and lived with. The multiplicity of stakeholders generates strains for evaluators in three main ways. First, evaluators are often unsure whose perspective they should take in designing an evaluation. Is the proper perspective that of society, the government agency involved, the program administrators and staff, the program’s intended beneficiaries, or one or more of the other stakeholder groups? For some evaluators, especially those who aspire to provide advice for improving programs, the program administrators and staff may be viewed as the primary audience. For evaluators whose projects have been mandated by a legislative body, the primary audience may include the relevant society, whether it is the community, the state, or the nation as a whole. The issue of which perspective to take in an evaluation should not be understood as one of whose bias to accept. Perspective issues are involved in defining the goals of a program and deciding which stakeholder’s concerns should be most closely attended to in relation to those goals. In 444
contrast, bias in an evaluation usually means distorting an evaluation’s design or conclusions to favor findings that are in accord with some stakeholder’s desires. Every evaluation is undertaken from some set of perspectives, but an ethical evaluator tries to avoid such bias. In our judgment, the responsibility of the evaluator is not to take one of the many perspectives as the sole legitimate one but, rather, to be clear about the perspective from which a particular evaluation is being undertaken while giving recognition to the other perspectives. In reporting the results of an evaluation, for example, an evaluator can state that the evaluation was conducted from the viewpoint of the program administrators while acknowledging the alternative perspectives of the society as a whole and of the program clients. In some evaluations, it may be possible to provide several perspectives on a program. Consider, for example, an assistance program for individuals with disabilities who are currently unemployed. From the viewpoint of those individuals, a successful program may be one that provides payment levels sufficient to meet basic consumption needs. From that perspective a program with relatively low levels of payments may be judged as falling short of its aim. But from the perspective of state legislators, for whom the main purpose of the program is to facilitate employment of the clients, the low level of payment may be seen as creating a desirable incentive. By the same token, legislators may view a generous assistance program that might be judged a success from the perspective of the beneficiaries as fostering welfare dependency. With these contrasting views on a central feature of the program, it would be appropriate for the evaluator to be concerned

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture