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A systems approach to policy evaluation

Caffrey, Louise and Munro, Eileen (2017) A systems approach to policy evaluation. Evaluation, 23 (4). pp. 463-478. ISSN 1356-3890

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Identification Number: 10.1177/1356389017730727


There is growing interest in evaluating policy implementation in ways that grapple with the complexity of the process. This article offers an example of using systems methodology to explore how the child protection policy in child contact centres has functioned in practice. Rather than just asking the traditional evaluation question “is it working?” this study sought to understand how the policy was working and how it was interpreted as it interacted with other systems, producing conflicts, local variation and emergent effects. It illustrates how the systems concepts of ‘emergence’, ‘local rationality’, ‘socio-technical systems’ and ‘feedback for learning’ can contribute new knowledge and understanding to a complex policy evaluation problem.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2017 The Authors
Divisions: Social Policy
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Date Deposited: 16 Aug 2017 08:34
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2021 00:33

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