Realistic Evaluation and the Process Tracing Method: A Combined Approach to Scrutinize Causal Mechanisms
Keywords:causal mechanisms, process tracing method, professional integration, Realistic Evaluation
This article proposes a methodological contribution for causal mechanism scrutiny by combining realistic evaluation (RE) and the process-tracing method (PTM). To overcome some limits of RE’s operationalization, the combination REPTM reinforces RE by breaking down the causal mechanisms and testing them with PTM. This combination was tested as part of a project for the professional integration of young people in difficulty. We developed a theoretical framework involving the framing of RE and used Bayesian logic to test the RE hypotheses. Semi-structured interviews served as the main evidence source. The results of the study support the fact that the RE-PTM combination can address some RE operationalization challenges. The RE-PTM procedure shows that PTM can provide RE with guidance on how to collect and assess data that support the contribution made by an intervention in achieving the expected outcomes.
The Canadian Evaluation Society (CES) owns the copyright to all material published in the Journal. Authors are informed of this policy prior to submission of the final copy for publication. Requests for permission to reprint, post or distribute copies of articles (electronic or hardcopy) come to the Editor-in-chief, who has the authority to decide on behalf of CES.