Policy evaluation styles

Fabrizio De Francesco, Valérie Pattyn

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The development of evaluation as a profession is marked by different diffusion waves and assumptions of what good governance and associated evaluation evidence entail. With every new wave, an increasing number of countries has adopted common evaluation practices. The question is whether this also implies commonalities in the way that evaluations are practised nowadays, or whether differences rather prevail. In this contribution, we analyse the volume and type of sediments which different waves have deposited. We focus on three evaluation practices that represent the major waves and that are exemplary for regulatory governance in Europe: administrative burden measurement or standard cost model; regulatory impact assessment; and randomized controlled trials and nudges. We contribute to both the policy evaluation literature and the literature on policy styles by proposing a typology that links waves of evaluation diffusion with prescriptive evaluation theories. While we do not find evidence for a homogenisation of evaluation styles, we highlight that the practices based on economic methods for consolidating evidence have a substantial impact on public administration culture.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Handbook of Policy Styles
EditorsMichael Howlett, Jale Tosun
Place of Publication[S.I.]
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9780429286322
Publication statusPublished - 25 Mar 2021


  • policy styles
  • policy studies


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