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Eckhard, Steffen and Jankauskas, Vytautas (2020): Explaining the political use of evaluation in international organizations. In: Policy Sciences, Vol. 53, No. 4: pp. 667-695

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Despite a growing literature on the politics of evaluation in international organizations (IOs) and beyond, little is known about whether political or administrative stakeholders indeed realize ex-ante political interests through evaluations. This is, however, especially important considering the booming business of evaluation and the proliferation of institutional assessments both in domestic and international politics. We argue that formally independent IO evaluation units informally orientate towards either member states or the IO administration, depending on who controls the unit's budget, staff, and agenda resources. This should enable either actor to also use evaluation results along pre-defined strategic interests. Interview data gathered among evaluators, secretariat officials, and member state representatives of six IOs support the expected pattern, highlighting striking differences in the orientation of evaluation staff and evaluation use. Findings challenge the technocratic, apolitical image of evaluation, offering practical and theoretical implications for future research.

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