printUse ctrl + p to print the page

Betterment, Undermining, Support and Distortion: A Heuristic Model for the Analysis of Pressure on Evaluators

Authors: Pleger, L. & Sager, F.

Publication date: in press

The paper suggests that while evaluators are often confronted with influence by different stakeholders, that influence is not per se negative. A heuristic model of influence on evaluations is proposed, which allows to distinguish different types of influence.

Abstract: Evaluations can only serve as a neutral evidence base for policy decision-making as long as they have not been altered along non-scientific criteria. Studies show that evaluators are repeatedly put under pressure to deliver results in line with given expectations. The study of pressure and influence to misrepresent findings is hence an important research strand for the development of evaluation praxis. A conceptual challenge in the area of evaluation ethics research is the fact that pressure can be not only negative, but also positive. We develop a heuristic model of influence on evaluations that does justice to this ambivalence of influence: the BUSD-model (betterment, undermining, support, distortion). The model is based on the distinction of two dimensions, namely ‘explicitness of pressure’ and ‘direction of influence’. We demonstrate how the model can be applied to understand pressure and offer a practical tool to distinguish positive from negative influence in the form of three so-called differentiators (awareness, accordance, intention). The differentiators comprise a practical component by assisting evaluators who are confronted with influence.

Key words: Pressure, evaluation, evidence-based policymaking, independence, heuristic BUSD-model

Useful links