Evaluation 2017: From Learning to Action

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Program Design and Program Theory in Inter-agency and intra-agency Collaboraiton

Session Number: 1416
Track: Program Theory and Theory-Driven Evaluation
Session Type: Panel
Tags: collaboration
Session Chair: Huey T. Chen [Professor - Mercer University]
Discussant: Charles H Gasper [Senior Consultant - TCC Group]
Presenter 1: Aimee Nicole White [Owner, Principal Evaluator - Custom Evaluation Services]
Presenter 2: Jonathan Morell [Director of Evaluation - Syntek ]
Presenter 3: Huey T. Chen [Professor - Mercer University]
Presentation 3 Additional Author: Liliana Morosanu [Research assistant - Mercer University]
Presentation 3 Additional Author: Kia Powell-Threets [Unit Director - Georgia Department of Public Health]
Presentation 3 Additional Author: Nannette Turner, Chair [Director - Dept. of Public Health]
Time: Nov 09, 2017 (04:30 PM - 05:15 PM)
Room: Thurgood Marshall East

Abstract 1 Title: Designing for Success in a Vortex-Lessons Learned from Creating Positive Outcomes in Complex Community Change Initiatives
Presentation Abstract 1:

Imagine attempting to get everyone at a multi-regional multi-generational family reunion to create a plan that includes everyone playing “their part” to achieve a commonly agreed upon goal (assuming you can even agree on a common goal). Don’t forget all the distant cousins, new spouses, boyfriends and girlfriends, and the grand and great-grandchildren! Now that you have that image in your head, creating cohesion across multi-sector community agencies might appear easy! Many issues face those attempting complex community change processes. Identifying and addressing them are a critical aspect of designing for success. Blending varying aspects of systems, design, innovation, collaborative facilitation, and many other theories offer support when working with collaborations in communities. This paper will use case examples taken from client projects attempting complex community change to articulate several tensions, design challenges, as well as proposed solutions in creating success in the constantly shifting sands of communities change initiatives.


Abstract 2 Title: Silos are Rational and Adaptive
Presentation Abstract 2:

This presentation will make the argument that the organizational silos that inhibit cross-functional coordination are necessary and welcome. What happens within a silo? People are contained in boundaries and relationships that further coordinated action with respect to well defined actions. Resources are similarly concentrated. Missions with respect to well-defined stakeholder groups are sharply delineated. Funding streams are focused. Culture and purpose are shared. Timelines and milestones are not muddied by multiple interests. Programs can be devised to maximize a small number of highly correlated outcomes. Without tight organizational boundaries, all of these dynamics, which are so necessary to successful action, would be lost or attenuated. The dark side to all this functionality is that cross-boundary coordinated action is necessary to pursue the social good. This presentation will propose a process of loose coordination as a strategy for keeping the functionality of silos, while ameliorating the dysfunctional consequences of narrow action.


Abstract 3 Title: Structural tension and disconnect of program theory in a collaboration-based program: Design challenges and possible solutions
Presentation Abstract 3:

The literature emphasizes that program theory is essential for guiding program planning and implementation. However, little direction is provided about how program theory is developed for an initiative that requires intra-agency collaboration. This presentation uses a case study from Georgia to illustrate structural tensions inherent to such collaborations. Two versions of program theory were apparent: State and local.  The state agency provided funds and their version of program theory to guide local agencies in implementing the initiative. The local agencies found the State’s version unrealistic and created their own version to comply with the requirements of the initiative, more exactly to “get by”. The consequences of having two versions of program theory emerge in the planning and implementation of the initiative, and how evaluators could contribute to addressing such a problem will be discussed.  


Theme: Learning to Enhance Evaluation
Audience Level: All Audiences

Session Abstract (150 words): 

Many intervention programs require collaborations among independent agencies with different missions (interagency collaboration) or among different levels of agencies with similar missions (intra-agency collaborations). Principles of organizing collaborations among agencies and factors affecting them have been discussed extensively in the literature. However, the inherent challenges of implementing those principles has received much less scholarly attention. Working together toward shared goals is difficult at times, especially among agencies with different priorities. Resistance and tension are not uncommon. Problems often originate due to issues related to whether they could reach a consensual program theory and its role in the design and guidance of planning and implementation activities. Without addressing these issues, collaborative opportunities and activities tend to be ineffective. This panel will focus on these design problems, with appropriate illustrations, and discuss how evaluators could contribute to addressing these program problems and issues.   



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Cancellation Policy: Refunds less a $50 fee will be granted for requests received in writing prior to 11:59 PM EDT October 16, 2017. Email cancellation requests to registration@eval.org. Fax request to (202) 367-2173. All refunds are processed after the meeting. After October 16, 2017 all sales are final. For Evaluation 2017, international attendees and presenters who encounter complications due to the international travel environment will have up to 30 days after the event to request a refund and submit appropriate documentation. No administrative fee will apply for the international requests. The $50 fee will be waived for registrants who planned to travel into the US and experienced international travel issues.