W02 - Practising change together – towards 5th generation evaluation Cathy Sharp - United Kingdom / Belinda Dewar - Scotland
Working in conditions of social and organisational complexity makes new demands of evidence as it rests on help to determine ‘wise actions’ in real-life situations (Sharp, 2018 forthcoming). In a recent keynote speech in Scotland, Michael Quinn Patton has described traditional evaluation as a ‘barrier to transformation’ and that ‘we are familiar with systems thinking, but we haven’t used it in evaluation’ (Quinn Patton, 2017, 2018).
Gro Emmertsen Lund (2011, 2012) has proposed that there is a need for what she calls ‘5th generation evaluation’ that would better reflect the paradigm shift brought by complexity and the wider recognition of the social construction of knowledge. Fourth-Generation Evaluation pointed toward more responsive, democratic and participatory evaluation models, which enabled respondents, users, stakeholders and others to gain insight, influence and a share in decision-making processes on their own terms (Guba and Lincoln, 1989).
Amongst practitioners, commissioners and funders of public programmes there is a clear appetite for different approaches to evaluation (McNeil, 2018; Sharp, 2018). The need for new forms of developmental evaluative thinking, appreciative and collaborative inquiry and action research to create embedded learning is well overdue.
As a response to traditional evaluation practices and rooted in appreciative inquiry, 5th generation evaluation seeks to strengthen working relations and the coordination of actions. It assumes that appreciative and challenging inquiry that is contextual, relational and open-minded will create better opportunities for change and development than critical testing, exposure, diagnoses, comparison, analyses and prescriptive conclusions.
This workshop contributes to emerging dialogues about the need for a model of ‘5th generation evaluation’ based on a recent review of literature and practice (Sharp, 2018 forthcoming). This workshop will introduce and test a series of provocative propositions, that may serve as navigation aids in this terrain. These provocations are a practical tool, that might be used with any group in the earliest stages, that seeks to establish a bespoke set of values and principles of how they wish to work together and how they wish to judge the quality of their work.