Evaluations, Actors and Institutions. The Case of Research, Technology and Innovation Policy in Austria

Jürgen Streicher

    Publikation: AbschlussarbeitDissertation

    121 Downloads (Pure)


    Evaluations have gained popularity for improving public policy measures, programmes and institutions in the field of science, technology and innovation (RTI). Though the frequency and quality of evaluations have increased, in terms of impact indicators and methodological diversification, concerns have been raised about their effectiveness to fuel change in policy making. This raises the issue of the low absorption level of evaluation findings by policy making in general and in Austria in particular.
    Recent research emphasises the need for a holistic perspective on the benefits and usefulness of evaluations in order to allow a more thorough consideration of complex interdependencies and effects that can occur at different levels and in different forms. While previous research has put much emphasis on the conduct of evaluations and their implementation, there are less empirical studies that address institutional or contextual explanations when it comes to the effects of evaluations. This study aims to contribute to the narrowing of this gap in the literature by investigating how individual and composite actors (such as organisations), as well as, the policy itself are affected by policy evaluations, drawing attention to the factors and mechanisms that shape evaluation effects.
    Making use of the concepts of "policy learning", actor-centred institutionalism and recent research in the field of evaluation utilisation for the analysis, this study developed a conceptual framework that proposes three groups of conditioning factors and mechanisms: Actors and their interactions, the institutional context, and the evaluation itself. A multiple case study approach, using evaluated programmes in the Austrian research, technology and innovation (RTI) policy scene, was employed to examine the effects of evaluations at various levels, the conditioning factors and mechanisms, as well as, the ensuing pathways of effects.
    Results indicate that evaluations generate a wide range of diverse effects, beyond individual learning, and clearly and visibly impact programme development. Several contextual aspects shape evaluation effects. The current structures and practices endorse evaluations as routine, which may reduce chances of broader learning, and distance the evaluation and the possibility to learn from it from an interested audience. The thesis concludes with implications for theory and practice, and suggestions for paths of future research.
    Gradverleihende Hochschule
    • Wirtschaftsuniversität Wien
    PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - 6 Apr. 2017