Much programme and policy evaluation yields to the pressure to report on the productivity of programmes and is perforce compliant with the conditions of contract. Too often the view of these evaluations is limited to a literal reading of the analytical challenge. If we are evaluating X we look critically at X1, X2 and X3. There might be cause for embracing adjoining data sources such as W1 and Y1. This ignores frequent realities that an evaluation specification is only an approximate starting point for an unpredictable journey into comprehensive understanding; that the specification represents only that which is wanted by the sponsor, and not all that may be needed; and that the contractual specification too often insists on privileging the questions and concerns of a few. Case study evaluation proves an alternative that allows for the less-than-literal in the form of analysis of contingencies – how people, phenomena and events may be related in dynamic ways, how context and action have only a blurred dividing line and how what defines the case as a case may only emerge late in the study.
Kushner, S. (2015), "Case Study as Antidote to the Literal", Case Study Evaluation: Past, Present and Future Challenges (Advances in Program Evaluation, Vol. 15), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 63-83. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1474-786320140000015003
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