Thinking with complexity in evaluation: A case study review
journal contributionposted on 25.05.2021, 23:13 by Christopher Roche, Graham Brown, Samantha Clune, Nora Shields, Virginia Lewis
[Paper is accepted for publication] Adopting complexity thinking in the design, implementation and evaluation of health and social development programmes is of increasing interest. Understanding institutional contexts in which these programmes are located directly influences shaping and eventual uptake of evaluations and relevant findings. A nuanced appreciation of the relationship between complexity, institutional arrangements and evaluation theory and practice provides an opportunity to optimise both programme design and eventual success. However, the application of complexity and systems thinking within programme design and evaluation is variously understood. Some understand complexity as the multiple constituent aspects within a system, while others take a more sociological approach, understanding interactions between beliefs, ideas and systems as mechanisms of change. This article adopts an exploratory approach to examine complexity thinking in the relational, recursive interactions between context and project design, implementation and evaluation. In doing so, common terms will be used to demonstrate the nature of shared aspects of complexity across apparently different projects.