The Reciprocal Relationship Between Implementation Theory and Program Theory in Assisting Program Design and Decision-Making
Process and impact evaluation are two fundamental purposes of evaluation. The evaluation literature is replete with examples how to complete high quality process and impact evaluations. Often the data from these two evaluation purposes are analyzed independently. To do so, however, does not recognize the full potential of the data to assist decision-making. The importance process evaluation results play in the interpretation of impact evaluation has been documented by several evaluators. However, there is a dearth of discussion and examples of how the results of an impact evaluation and program theory can inform process evaluation and shape implementation theory. The purpose of this article is to demonstrate the reciprocal nature of program theory and implementation theory highlighting two situations in which program theory is essential in a) developing a higher quality implementation theory and b) interpreting the process evaluation results.
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