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Closing Remarks - CERIS

Closing Remarks - CERIS

Closing Remarks -

“Evaluation Challenges and Settlement Sector”John ShieldsDepartment of Politics and Public Administration, Ryerson UniversityIntroductionAn examination of the issue of evaluation and nonprofit service provider sector is very timelyand important for pushing forward a progressive understanding and positioning of the role ofevaluation. In this regard it is important to look at what to date has been largely neglectedconsideration, that is the broader context in which evaluation in settlement services sector, andmore generally the nonprofit sector as a whole, in Canada rests. In this respect the bigger pictureis important. In short, we need to consider the role of evaluation within the political economy ofnonprofit service delivery, but at the same time we also need to be attuned to how evaluationcomes to operationalized/conceptualized on the ground. To this end I will raise and address threemajor points concerned with: 1) the lack of conceptual clarity as to what evaluation is andinvolves; 2) the question of for whom evaluation is directed; and 3) the organizational, politicaland socio-economic context in which evaluation takes place. Each of these areas is consideredbelow.Evaluation and the Importance of Conceptual ClarityThe first thing that is important to address involved conceptual clarification. This issue goesbeyond mere academic interest as conceptual confusion around the concept of evaluation hasgenerated a good deal of confusion and anxiety among nonprofit service providers. The issue ishow various parties, including funders, have often fused (used interchangeably) the concepts of“accountability” and “evaluation”.While there is an association between these concepts – they often over lap – they are alsoessentially different. Accountability is about owning responsibilities for ones actions and beingable to explain them to others. Evaluation by contrast is about critically assessing the actuallyvalue and impact of actions/programs. The table below outlines some of the differences betweenthese concepts.1

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