This article examines what the co-existence of different evaluation imaginaries – understandings of what environmental policy evaluation ‘is’ and ‘should do’ – means for everyday evaluation practice. We present a case study in which we show how these different understandings influence the evaluation process as they are mobilized interchangeably. Though co-existing evaluation imaginaries broaden the repertoire and potential for innovation, practitioners also experience tensions as innovative ambitions conflict with institutionalized practices. We hypothesize that practitioners deal with these inconsistencies by decoupling approaches, intentions and outcomes from each other. In this way, innovation occurs in parts of the evaluation process while other parts follow a more traditional approach. For evaluation theory we argue the need to further explore how decoupling enables practitioners to deal with co-existing imaginaries. For evaluation practice we stress that articulation of societal expectations is indispensable to ensure the legitimacy of policy evaluation.

Kunseler, E. M., & Vasileiadou, E. (2016). Practising environmental policy evaluation under co-existing evaluation imaginaries. Evaluation, 22(4), 451-469.

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