Special Issue Introduction: The Power of Evaluation

Kettil Nordesjö, Mats Fred


The aim of this special issue is to invite scholars in public administration to address issues of power in relation to evaluation practices in the public sector. Power is one of those big, difficult, and inherently nebulous concepts that both scholars and practitioners appear to consciously or unconsciously avoid. Our ambition in this introduction is not to present a comprehensive conceptual review of power, let alone to present the many different aspects of evaluation. Rather, this is a humble attempt to foster a more explicit discussion of the relationship between power and evaluation. The aim of this introduction is, firstly, to introduce a few basic distinctions and conceptualisations of the relationship between power and evaluation. Secondly, we would like to highlight three themes where power may be an especially fruitful lens when analysing, or just trying to make sense of, evaluation procedures. These are themes found in evaluation research, but where power is not always acknowledged or accounted for. We call them (1) Evaluation and instrumental power, (2) Evaluation and contextual power, and (3) Evaluation and performative power.

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Scandinavian Journal of Public Administration

School of Public Administration, Box 712 - SE-405 30 Göteborg

ISSN: 2001-7405, E-ISSN: 2001-7413