Program & Organizational Evaluation-Transdisciplinary Perspectives
This course begins by discussing the extraordinarily important and still largely neglected role of skilled evaluation in many disciplines, and in our everyday practical thinking, a role that led the instructor to introduce the term ‘transdiscipline’ in 1991 as a label for this role. From this we develop the concept of the ‘logic of evaluation’ which represents a new toolkit of skilled technical analysis that has to be added to all social sciences (and many other disciplines), as they previously added statistics and specialized research design (two other transdisciplines), in order to make it possible for them to provide answers to the most important practical and ethical questions, such as, “Does the use of computers in California schools (or in training of bank tellers at BofA, etc.) produce any overall benefit?” or “Did Welch’s approach to managing General Electric provide an improved model for personnel decisions that can be used in other organizations, including non-profits?” or “Are the salaries paid to the top Wall Street executives after the 2009 crash unethical?” or “How can the World Bank avoid cultural bias in designing and evaluating its efforts at funding improvements in poor nations’ infrastructures?” It will also be argued that all disciplines are entirely dependent on the transdiscipline of evaluation for their own legitimacy (since the way they evaluate publications, and achievements, and personnel, and funding, in that discipline, currently done very badly, totally controls that legitimacy.)
We’ll also look at the implications of the new evaluation models and techniques for practical problem solving in everyday life e.g., in selecting an apartment, vehicle, or career; and whether the rhetoric of evaluation that suffuses assessment of wines, art, chefs, literary criticism, and senior executive appointments in politics (e.g., the Presidential race) and megabusinesses (e.g., Apple, H-P) is just hot air, or partly, or potentially, scientific.
The general purpose of this course is to enable students to see how the overall effectiveness of organizations can be defined and determined. Participants will develop skills in: forming good evaluation questions; designing evaluations and selecting samples; planning for data collection and developing effective measures; analyzing evaluation results; developing evaluation budgets; reporting and communicating evaluation results to stakeholders; and developing sensitivities to ethical and political issues involved in evaluation.