The politics of program logic
Regional Professional Studies
Regional Professional Studies Deans Office
This paper examines the use of program logic against the background of the politicised environment of evaluations. Its central argument is that the development of a program logic for the purpose of focusing an evaluation can be a highly politicised process, given that it requires sign-off by the ‘authorising environment’. We commence with a brief discussion of how politics surface within organisations because evaluation planning is typically conducted within these settings. A model of change management is then introduced to highlight how political forces both hostile to and supportive of the evaluation process can surface when evaluations are being planned. We next consider two scenarios, drawn from the evaluation of a program to improve the competence and confidence of professionals working with people at risk of self-harm and suicide. These scenarios are used to highlight a number of important points about the politics of focusing an evaluation. The paper concludes by identifying some of the dilemmas that evaluation practitioners may need to work through in focusing an evaluation in a highly politicised environment, as well as how these might be addressed using program logic.