Advisory groups for evaluations in diverse cultural groups, communities, and contexts



An advisory group constructed from within the community where a program evaluation is conducted can be an invaluable resource to an evaluator, particularly if the evaluator is an outsider and of a different culture. The author identifies useful roles that advisory groups have played in his organization's evaluations, and explores advisory group selection criteria, processes for identifying, vetting, and recruiting potential members who meet these criteria, and recruitment-related pitfalls. Shortcomings of advisory groups in these contexts are discussed. The authors examine dos, don'ts, and lessons learned from working effectively with advisory groups in diverse cultural contexts; for example, understanding and appreciating unfamiliar styles of discourse and patterns of interaction and how to adapt to these. Differences in age, gender, position, social status, education, literacy, national origin, dialect, degree of assimilation, political affiliation, clan membership, knowledge of English, and comfort with European-American manners and customs are all at play. ©Wiley Periodicals, Inc., and the American Evaluation Association.