Policy implementation: Implications for evaluation


  • Amy DeGroff,

    1. Researcher, Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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  • Margaret Cargo

    1. Senior lecturer, School of Health Sciences, University of South Australia; Adjunct appointments, Douglas Hospital Research Centre and Department of Psychiatry, McGill University
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Policy implementation reflects a complex change process where government decisions are transformed into programs, procedures, regulations, or practices aimed at social betterment. Three factors affecting contemporary implementation processes are explored: networked governance, sociopolitical context and the democratic turn, and new public management. This frame of reference invites evaluators to consider challenges present when evaluating macrolevel change processes, such as the inherent complexity of health and social problems, multiple actors with variable degrees of power and influence, and a political environment that emphasizes accountability. The evaluator requires a deep and cogent understanding of the health or social issues involved; strong analysis and facilitation skills to deal with a multiplicity of values, interests, and agendas; and a comprehensive toolbox of evaluation approaches and methods, including network analysis to assess and track the interconnectedness of key champions (and saboteurs) who might affect intervention effects and sustainability. © Wiley Periodicals, Inc., and the American Evaluation Association.