Evaluation is a tool bureaucratic organizations conventionally use to assess the working and effectiveness of the programs in order to adjust established practice or gain new ideas. But evaluation can also be used strategically to confirm or communicate pre-existing preferences. Who designs evaluation determines the questions raised and shapes, in turn, the answers provided. Recognizing that some international organizations (IOs) have become self-evaluating institutions while others hardly evaluate at all, this project investigates the factors shaping IOs evaluative practices.

The proposed project assumes that, under different conditions, international administrations and member states in IOs have different evaluation-related interests which affect both the design of evaluation and the policy-making impact of its results. The project then asks: What are the factors that explain variation in evaluation design in IOs? And what are the factors that explain the impact of evaluation results on IO policy-making?

Answering these questions requires new empirical research. Because accessing and investigating evaluative activity can be both difficult and delicate for those involved, the proposed project will make use of the Research Units privileged access in two ways: first, it will use established contacts for qualitative interviews with evaluation experts; and second, it will conduct a survey among IPA bureaucrats. Through this innovative approach, the project will contribute to the Research Unit International Public Administration by conceptualizing and studying evaluation as a crucial administrative tool while making the theoretically important recognition that administrative tools can be exploited strategically both by the administration and by other political stakeholders.