An Ethnographic Account of an Evaluation Experience: A Critical Analysis of the Local Evaluation of an Economic Regeneration Programme

  • Tracey Wond

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This research is an ethnographic account of a three year long programme evaluation in a Local Enterprise Growth Initiative. The study contributes to evaluation theory by identifying several key findings that occur throughout evaluation practice, in the areas of: stakeholder relations; the role of an evaluator; evaluation purposes; and evaluation methodology. The use of ethnography is central to the originality of the contribution, allowing a comprehensive, first-hand, and longitudinal reflection to be made; such a reflection does not exist in current evaluation literature.
The literature review identified power, trust and the stresses on the evaluator’s role as key themes in present evaluation studies. This study found a great deal of evidence to support these themes, particularly disruptions to evaluation practice, the sensitive nature of stakeholder influence, the complexity of the evaluator role, and the significance of political context. The contribution to knowledge in this study is not so much that these confirmatory findings exist, but rather the autoethnographic nature of the data, revealing the evaluators own experience of conducting the programme evaluation and being an evaluation practitioner.
The study finds a host of phenomena occurring in evaluation in the public realm, and ultimately finds that areas of evaluation practice could fail, whether by the fault of the evaluator or other stakeholders. Politics, role ambiguity and government decision processes are also found to affect evaluation. The study recommends that evaluation practitioners, commissioners and other stakeholders use the longitudinal findings to better understand the entirety of evaluation practice. In so doing, this research fills crucial gaps in current literature and acts to enhance evaluation practice.
Date of Award30 Sept 2012
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Teesside University International Business School
SupervisorMichael Macaulay (Supervisor)

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