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Developmental Evaluation: Applying Complexity Concepts to Enhance Innovation and Use [Paperback]

Michael Quinn Patton
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
Price: £36.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

13 Aug 2010 1606238728 978-1606238721 1

Developmental evaluation (DE) offers a powerful approach to monitoring and supporting social innovations by working in partnership with program decision makers. In this book, eminent authority Michael Quinn Patton shows how to conduct evaluations within a DE framework. Patton draws on insights about complex dynamic systems, uncertainty, nonlinearity, and emergence. He illustrates how DE can be used for a range of purposes: ongoing program development, adapting effective principles of practice to local contexts, generating innovations and taking them to scale, and facilitating rapid response in crisis situations. Students and practicing evaluators will appreciate the book's extensive case examples and stories, cartoons, clear writing style, "closer look" sidebars, and summary tables. Provided is essential guidance for making evaluations useful, practical, and credible in support of social change.


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Developmental Evaluation: Applying Complexity Concepts to Enhance Innovation and Use + Purposeful Program Theory: Effective Use of Theories of Change and Logic Models (Research Methods for the Social Sciences) + The Science of Evaluation: A Realist Manifesto
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Product details

  • Paperback: 375 pages
  • Publisher: Guilford Press; 1 edition (13 Aug 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1606238728
  • ISBN-13: 978-1606238721
  • Product Dimensions: 24.9 x 17.5 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 411,698 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

"There is a real hunger for this book among social innovators, funders, policymakers, and educators. The book is sure to become dog-eared as it is read, used, and reread to help evaluators conduct their work in a manner consistent with the complexity of the challenges they are addressing." - Brenda Zimmerman, Director, Health Industry Management Program, Schulich School of Business, York University, Canada

"Patton pulls back the curtain to reveal that there is no great Oz of evaluation. This book reminds us that when we are working in complex systems we are better off acknowledging how little we know from the outset—and then acting on continual feedback—rather than pretending we already have all the knowledge needed to succeed. Patton challenges evaluators to relentlessly adapt, react, change, and innovate to work toward the best outcomes." - John B. Bare, Vice President, The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, Atlanta, Georgia, USA

"In true Michael Quinn Patton style, this book successfully extends both the theory and practice of evaluation in significant and timely ways. Solutions to the world’s most pressing social problems are neither predictable nor known; developmental evaluation is just what the field needs to evaluate the complex realities of today’s organizations and communities. This book is a 'must read' for anyone committed to understanding how, where, when, and for whom social innovations are achieving their goals." - Hallie Preskill, Executive Director, Strategic Learning and Evaluation Center, FSG Social Impact Advisors, Seattle, Washington

"Proust wrote that 'the real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.' In this book, Patton brings new eyes to evaluation landscapes. He illustrates the distinct contribution that developmental evaluation can make in addressing the dynamic complexity that often challenges evaluation efforts. Evaluators will see themselves among the stories Patton shares. The concepts and ideas are accessible and the case examples provide a diverse array of teachable vignettes, making the book ideal for classroom use. This is a most enjoyable read that offers lots of new learning, even for an evaluation veteran!" - Ann M. Doucette, Director, The Evaluators’ Institute, The George Washington University, USA

About the Author

Michael Quinn Patton is an independent organizational development and program evaluation consultant. A former President of the American Evaluation Association (AEA), he teaches regularly in AEA’s professional development workshops, The Evaluators’ Institute, and The World Bank’s International Program in Development Evaluation Training. Dr. Patton is a recipient of the Myrdal Award for Outstanding Contributions to Useful and Practical Evaluation Practice from the Evaluation Research Society and the Lazarsfeld Award for Lifelong Contributions to Evaluation Theory from the AEA.


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I welcome the Exercise Yard 2 July 2011
By Jasper
Format:Paperback
A book for academics, great source of references and great if you need to write an article on evaluation. The book is also a sad reflection on the profession of evaluation.

Having stuffed evaluation into two neatly labeled boxes, Formative and Summative evaluation, Patton outlines the need for thinking outside the box. He introduces many fine concepts including emergence and systems thinking but then proceeds to revert to creating a new box with rigid boundaries and labels this new box Developmental Evaluation.

Now we have three neat boxes to choose from and spend time musing over which is the appropriate box for a particular evaluation.

Very disappointing! Why do we need a Phd thesis to tell us that life is messy or the difference between simple, complicated and complex? Why is the author so surprised by everyday truths?

The concepts in the book while valid, remain disconnected and separated out and the author clearly needs neat simple solutions that are defined, confined and documented by academics.

What is really missing in the book is awareness, a true openness to discovery, a large splash of humility and a commitment to accountability. So much could be learned from Paulo Freire and his Praxis concept or from Jane Vella's great book "How do They know They know" yet neither get a mention.

The greatest asset with this book is that it gives the evaluator permission and the authority from academia to move from the twin cells of Formative and Summative Evaluation for brief excursions into the defined and confined exercise yard now claimed and named as Developmental Evaluation. So sad that we need this permission to move towards reality !
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An answer to prayer! 19 Feb 2011
Format:Paperback
Terrific stuff - original, authoritative, conceptually sophisticated, fully grounded in diverse experience, lucid and brightly written,this book gently trashes the presumption that RCTs can be a generic gold standard, and sets out a creative and credible alternative to the rigor (as in mortis)of so much evaluation. I've never met or had any contact with the author - but I sure as hell would like to!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
I am using this partly for the complexity theory approach and partly for the evaluation. It is a great resource
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By JD
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Patton has provided a highly distinctive and novel perspective on M&E. In essence, he sees a role for an M&E specialist to act as a specialised change agent rather than an independent auditor. Why don't I give this book top marks? Well, it is wordy and repeats points excessively. But the chief flaw is that Patton appears to know little about the management of innovation, even though it is in the subtitle of the book! However, he is right to argue that M&E can, should and must contribute more to change programs and his use of complexity theory offers a useful pathway for progress. The book would have been stronger had he also seen M&E as a element in a political process. Maybe in the next edition!
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Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Box 2 July 2011
By Jasper - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
A book for academics, great source of references and great if you need to write an article on evaluation. The book is also a sad reflection on the profession of evaluation.

Having stuffed evaluation into two neatly labeled boxes, Formative and Summative evaluation, Patton outlines the need for thinking outside the box. He introduces many fine concepts including emergence and systems thinking but then proceeds to revert to creating a new box with rigid boundaries and labels this new box Developmental Evaluation.

Now we have three neat boxes to choose from and spend time musing over which is the appropriate box for a particular evaluation.

Very disappointing! Why do we need a Phd thesis to tell us that life is messy or the difference between simple, complicated and complex? Why is the author so surprised by everyday truths?

The concepts in the book while valid, remain disconnected and separated out and the author clearly needs neat simple solutions that are defined, confined and documented by academics.

What is really missing in the book is awareness, a true openness to discovery, a large splash of humility and a commitment to accountability. So much could be learned from Paulo Freire and his Praxis concept or from Jane Vella's great book "How do They know They know" yet neither get a mention.

The greatest asset with this book is that it gives the evaluator permission and the authority from academia to move from the twin cells of Formative and Summative Evaluation for brief excursions into the defined and confined exercise yard now claimed and named as Developmental Evaluation. So sad that we need this permission to move towards reality !
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Practical approach to using complexity concepts in evaluation 31 Jan 2011
By Patricia Rogers - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Michael Patton brings together the rich thinking about complexity and systems approaches and shows how, and why, we can apply this to evaluation. While not all types of interventions need developmental evaluation, increasingly our interventions are non-standardized, adaptive and emergent, and evaluation approaches based on comparative agricultural plots cannot provide the evidence we need to develop policy and practice. Developmental evaluation shows ways to learn from and inform what we do.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful and Useful 26 Nov 2012
By Ken Rider - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I've always liked the observation by George Box that "All models are wrong, some are useful." It fits here in helping describe Patton's thoughtful and passionate treatment of developmental evaluation, which is essentially a learn-as-you-go approach to program evaluation. It's definitely useful, which is high praise.

PROS: What I appreciate most about Patton's developmental approach is that it applies nicely to navigating messy, real-world situations where folks are building new programs in changing environments and really don't know what's likely to work and what isn't. The developmental approach embraces the idea that we do the best we can in these situations, recognizing that we can collect and use feedback along the way to figure out what works, what doesn't and to change accordingly. The approach also acknowledges that it's often unrealistic to "freeze" a program to evaluate it. Overall, Patton's wealth of experience comes through in a text that is filled with rich analysis and sprinkled liberally with useful examples and meaningful insights of when and where the approach can be used. In addition, there are good summaries after each chapter and readers in a hurry may want to skim these first to find the parts most relevant to them.

CONS: Though well written, this is not a breezy read. The text is focused on practical matters but the writing style will strike some as "academic." Patton also takes a number of tangents to highlight issues he believes are relevant. While I generally appreciated these side trips and reasons for them, it's worth noting that those looking for a how-to book shouldn't expect a step-by-step flow to the discussion. Finally, I agree with a previous reviewer who noted that Patton takes a great deal of time providing rationales for some points in the book which seemed almost obvious. My sense here is that he does this b/c he's writing for several audiences at once. One of these likely consists of traditional evaluators who may see developmental evaluation as some kind of abomination. Where the text appears to go overboard in defending the devel approach, it's probably just a bit of armor plating to ensure that critics see and understand the rigor underpinning the approach and under what circumstances it's sensible to use.

To wrap up, there are several good and free primers on developmental evaluation out there (for example, Preskill & Beer), but if you're looking to go in depth on the topic, Patton's book is well worth the time.
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun Book (as far as textbooks go) 16 Mar 2013
By Crock pot mom - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Good book. Patton has a very engaging writing style. He uses a lot of stories and analogies to get his points across. If you need to know a little more about Developmental Evaluation, this is a good one to read.
5.0 out of 5 stars I Highly Recommend it 6 Feb 2013
By Kyle - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Patton's approach to evaluation is relentlessly pragmatic. It breaks free from formulaic constraints and offers models calculated to account for complexity. He weaves concrete experience throughout the text to illustrate and fortify his points. A wonderful read.
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