Public Administration ETDs

Publication Date



Increasing emphasis is being placed on evaluation by Congress, federal agencies, state legislatures, and local government. Yet many writers in the field of evaluation assert that its history to date has been disappointing, that few studies have impacted basic management decision making, activity direction, or later policy proposals.

Consequently, the purpose of this study is to determine factors contributing to the ineffectiveness of evaluations and to suggest directions which might overcome eventually such ineffectiveness.

The effectiveness of evaluative efforts appears to be governed by two factors: the receptivity of the environment and the merit of the evaluation methodology employed. This study focuses on the evaluation's environment, not on its methodology. Emphasis is on generating a tool to aid planners and administrators of evaluative activities in recognizing which climates are conducive to evaluation and which settings propagate ineffective evaluations.

Current literature in the evaluation field was surveyed to ascertain the factors and their associated criteria relevant for incorporation into such a tool for administrators, a conceptual model for predicting in advance the relative receptivity of an environment to worthwhile evaluative eff0rts. Survey findings indicated that pertinent factors and their criteria can be grouped under three headings: definitions, political state, and evaluator concerns. Next, the thesis conceptual model was applied to three cases found in the readings and to five selected research cases encompassing both line and staff program evaluation examples. Techniques utilized in determining the environments and effectiveness of the case study evaluations included germane publications, program documents, related correspondence, and personal interviews with knowledgeable program personnel.

The thesis hypothesis--environmental factors, as incorporated into the conceptual model, govern the extent to which evaluation efforts employing sound methodology may be effectively utilized--was supported by the litera­ture surveyed in the evaluation and related fields and demonstrated through the case studies researched. Study conclusions are as follows: (1) environmental factors regulate the degree to which evaluative efforts employing sound methodology are effectively utilized; (2) these factors can be ascertained in advance of undertaking an evaluation and are portrayed in the thesis conceptual model; (3) placement of a proposed evaluation project into the model can aid an administrator in predicting whether the environment is receptive to effective evaluations; and (4) some of the environmental factors, if found to be negative to evaluation effectiveness, may be corrected to permit a worthwhile evaluation undertaking.

To sum up, evaluation programs can provide information of value and should be instigated, but only in those circumstances where the environmental factors are relatively favorable for effective evaluation or can be modified to be so.

Degree Name

Public Administration

Level of Degree


Department Name

School of Public Administration

First Committee Member (Chair)

Albert H. Rosenthal

Second Committee Member

Leonard Arnold Stitelman

Third Committee Member

Vladmir V. Berniklau



Document Type