Theory-based evaluation of community development : a South African case study

Abrahams, Mark Anthony (Stellenbosch : University of Stellenbosch, 2003-12)

Thesis (PhD)--University of Stellenbosch, 2003.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This study is a case study of the motivation for and application of a theory-driven evaluation approach to a community development programme in South Africa. The motivation for a theory-based approach is explicated within the context of the inability of experimental or ‘black box’ designs to evaluation to provide the requisite information to programme implementers, programme managers as well as policy makers. It also argues that experimental design in evaluation has not lived up to its promise of producing systematic and robust evidence about the impact of projects or programmes. Instead, experimental designs have struggled to maintain the integrity of the designs and are fraught with deficiencies that influence the quality of the results. The research context of a South Africa in the midst of political, economic and social transformation from 1994 to the present, is presented to highlight the complex challenges facing the country in terms of economic upliftment, poverty alleviation and social transformation. The need to evaluate the various interventions and initiatives through policy changes and development programme is then established. One such intervention, a community development programme initiated by the Centre for Community Development (CCD), is introduced as an example of an intervention with the objectives to deal with the challenges listed above. The history and development of programme evaluation as an interdisciplinary, applied field of research are presented to illuminate the multiple purposes assigned to programme evaluation and to create the platform for further arguments for the use of a theory-based approach to evaluation. The history, growth and potential benefits of a theory-driven approach are shared as well as the barriers and critiques from various quarters. A meta-theoretical analysis of the philosophical debates about the paradigmatic choices available to researchers is used to construct the ontological,epistemological and methodological landscape that influences various orientations to research. It shows how different researchers interpret this landscape or framework and locates the theory-based approach to evaluation within a particular brand of realist ontology. Community development is showcased in terms of its central concepts, that is ‘community’ and ‘development’. These concepts, individually and their interconnections, are interrogated and explained for the purposes of generating a conceptual and theoretical framework that is used later in the analysis of the evaluation findings. The research context of the community development programme is then introduced and the evaluation findings are outlined and discussed. The analysis of the evaluation findings reveals the essence of the community development programme and provides guidance for further refinement of the theory-based approach.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die gevallestudie ondersoek die motivering vir die gebruik en implementering van `n teoriegedrewe benadering vir die evaluering van `n gemeenskapontwikkelings program in Suid Afrika. Die motivering vir `n teoriegedrewe benadering word bespreek in die konteks van die onvermoë van eksperimentele of ‘black-box’ benadering tot evaluering om genoegsame informasie aan program implementeerders, program-bestuurders en beleidmakers te verskaf. Daar word ook geargumenteer dat die eskperimentele benadering tot evaluering, ondanks die belofte om sistematiese en gegronde bewyse van die uitwerking van projekte of programme daar te stel, nie aan hierdie belofte voldoen nie. Die eksperimetele benadering worstel ook om die integriteit van die ontwerpe te behou en dit beïnvloed die kwaliteit van die resultate. Die politieke, ekonomiese en sosiale transformasie in Suid Afrika, vanaf 1994 tot die hede, word beskryf as die navorsing-konteks om sodoende die uitdagings van ekonomiese opheffing, armoede verligting en sosiale transformasie uit te lig. Die dringende behoefte om verskeie initiatiewe en intervensies, wat in die lewe geroep is deur beleids-veranderinge en ontwikkelings-programme, te evalueer word vervolgens bespreek. `n Voorbeeld van so `n initiatief is die van die Sentrum vir Gemeenskaps- Ontwikkeling (CCD) wat ten doel het om van die sosiale uitdagings, hierbo genoem, vas te vat. Verdere argumente vir die gebruik van die teoriegedrewe benadering tot program evaluering word aangevoer deur middel van `n uitbreiding van die geskiedenis en ontwikkeling van program-evaluering . Program-evaluering word uitgebeeld as `n interdissiplinêre toegepaste veld van navorsing en word aangewend vir verskeie doeleindes. Die geskiedenis, groei en potensiële voordele van die teoriegedrewe benadering tot evaluering word bespreek asook die probleme van, en kritiek teenoor die benadering. Die ontologiese, epistemologiese en metodologiese raamwerk wat die sosiale wetenskappe omskryf en beïnvloed, word bespreek deur `n meta-teoretiese analiese van die filosofiese debatte oor die paradigmatiese keuses wat navorsers maak en beïnvloed. Dit wys ook hoe navorsers hierdie raamwerk interpreter en die teorie-aangedrewe benadering tot evaluering word vas gele binne `n bepaalde soort realistiese ontologie. Gemeenskaps-ontwikkeling word ook ontleed in terme van die sentrale konsepte naamlik ‘gemeenskap’ en ‘ontwikkeling’. Hierdie konsepte word ontleed en verduidelik met die doel om `n teoretiese raamwerk te ontwikkel wat later gebruik word in die analise van die evaluasie resultate.Die navorsings-konteks van die gemeenskaps ontwikkeling program word ook uitgebeeld en die resultate van die evaluasie aangebied en bespreek. Die ontleding van die resultate van die evaluasie ontbloot die kern van die gemeenskaps ontwikkeling program en bied riglyne vir die verdere verskerping van die teoriegedrewe benadering tot evaluasie.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/15936
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