In the United Kingdom, the development of professional evaluation really began with the 1970’s. Evaluation for accountability arose as a result of the 1970’s international economic recession. In difficult financial times there is a greater demand for evidence of, ‘What works for whom, and at what cost?’ The timeline below shows the development of evaluation in the context of the macro-economic and political climate.
Picture courtesy of Dorset County Council.
These conditions led to evaluation being used more and more for economic accountability – for making financial decisions.
In the 1980’s the focus was on financial accountability and efficiency.
Research and evaluation evidence was formally committed to by Government as having an influence on policy making. Learning about best practice and effectiveness was more of a priority now than simply how much those practices cost.
Training and advice in data analysis was made formally available for policy-makers. Using evaluation evidence was part of professional policy-making.
Late 2000’s - 2010’s
Evaluation re-focuses on efficiency and cost-effectiveness.
Source: Furubo, J. E., Rist, R. C., and Sandahl, R. (eds.) (2002) International Atlas of Evaluation New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers.