Skip to main content

Policy Evaluation

Go Search
New Atlas
Atlas, A-Z
Atlas Maps
MPP/MPA Programs
Core Topics
Illustrative Courses
Topic Encyclopedia
Concept Dictionary
Career Tips
Best Practices Project

Applying an Implementation Lens
Balanced Scorecard as a Strategy for Performance Improvement
Building Coalitions
Bureaucratic Politics, Organizational Design and Decision-Making
Cognitive Biases
Defining Policy Problems and Policy Making Under Pressure
Developing Networks for Improvement
Efficiency, Effectiveness, and Instrument Choice
Financing and Fundraising in the Third Sector
Implementation and Policy
Implementation and Policy
Implementation and Risk
Implementation and the Budget Context
Implementation Environment
Implementing through Markets
Implementing with Partners
Improving Organizational Performance Through Competition
Learning as a Performance Strategy
Leveraging Diversity
Managing a Global Team
Managing Conflict
Managing Partnerships: Multi-Party Arrangements
Managing Risk: The “New” Way Forward in Managing?
Mission and Strategy
Models of Policy Making
Modernization of Public Sector Organizations
Multi-Level Governance
Network Assessment and Analysis
Operations and Marketing Strategy
Organizational Alignment
Organizational Behaviour
Organizational Culture
Organizational Performance and Management Reform
Organizing for Collaboration and Partnership
Organizing for Performance
Overview of Recent Trends in Public Administration
Performance Information as a Management Tool
Policy Analysis and Contemporary Governance
Policy Design and Instrument Choice
Policy Evaluation
Public Services in the Age of Restraint - new public service delivery models and the quest to do better with less
Public-Private Partnerships
Recent Trends from Comparative Public Administration
Rules vs. Discretion
The Crisis of “Governability” (1970s) and its Effects
The Meaning of Strategy in Public Management
The Role of Leadership in Strategy and Implementation
The Role of the Board and Strategic Governance in Third Sector Organizations
The Shift to Public Governance
Theories of Human Motivation and Decision Making: Rational Choice
Working in Teams


Policy Evaluation

This topic teaches students about different methods for measuring the effectiveness and efficiency of public policy decisions. Students learn why it is sometimes difficult to measure policy success, and key evaluation techniques that governments use in an attempt to isolate, measure, and quantify the impact of policy actions. This also topic deals with the role of evaluation in the policy cycle.

Topic Learning Outcome: Upon mastering this topic, students will be familiar with key policy evaluation techniques and will be able to make informed decisions about the appropriateness of various evaluation methods for measuring the success of specific public policies.

Core Concepts associated with this Topic: Evaluability; Evaluation Assessment; Evaluation Criteria; Evaluation Products.

Recommended Readings

Carelton University: PADM-5116

Leslie A. Pal, Beyond Policy Analysis 5th ed. (Toronto: Nelson Education, 2013), chap. 7.

Bovens, Mark, Paul T Hart, and Sanneke Kuipers, "The Politics of Policy Evaluation," in Michael Moran, Martin Rein and Robert E. Goodin, eds. The Oxford Handbook of Public Policy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006), 319-335.

McLaughlin, John A. and Gretchen B. Jordan, “Using Logic Models,” in Joseph S. Wholey, Harry P. Hatry, and Kathryn E. Newcomer, eds., Handbook of Practical Program Evaluation, 2nd ed., (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2004), 7-32.

Auld, A. G., Mallett, A., Burlica, B., Nolan-Poupart, F., & Slater, R. (2014). Evaluating the effects of policy innovations: Lessons from a systematic review of policies promoting low-carbon technology. Global Environmental Change (in press),

NYU Wagner: CORE-GP.1022

DeLeon, Peter, and Linda DeLeon. "What ever happened to policy implementation? An alternative approach." Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory: J-PART (2002): 467-492.

McLaughlin, Milbrey Wallin. "Learning from experience: Lessons from policy implementation." Educational evaluation and policy analysis 9, no. 2 (1987): 171-178. 

Bovens, Mark, Paul T Hart, and Sanneke Kuipers. "The politics of policy evaluation." in The Oxford Handbook of Public Policy, edited by Moran, Michael, Martin Rein, and Robert E. Goodin Pp. 317-333. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006. 

George Washington: PPA-6006

Bardach, Eugene. Practical guide for policy analysis: the eightfold path to more effective problem solving. Sage Publications Inc, 2011. Part I, Step 4.

“Never the twain shall meet: Why do economists and environmental scientists have such a hard time communicating?,” The Economist,  

Principles of Harm Reduction. Harm Reduction Coalition:

Burger, Nicholas, Liisa Ecola, and Thomas Light. Evaluating Options for US Greenhouse-Gas Mitigation Using Multiple Criteria. Rand Corporation, 2009. Chapter 3.

Sample Assessment Questions:

1.)   What is a logic model? Why are logic models important for policy evaluation and policy success?

2.)   What are confounding variables? Explain in one page, using real-world examples why confounding variables can make it difficult to measure policy success.

3.)   For-profit enterprises aim to maximize profits, whereas government policies aim to achieve a much wider range of objectives. What unique evaluation challenges does this difference between the two types of organizations present for public sector managers?

4.)   What are unintended consequences? How should the possibility of unintended consequences from government actions inform the policy evaluation process?


Page created by Joshua Tan on 18 April 2015; edited by Ben Eisen.


Important Notices
© University of Toronto 2008
School of Public Policy and Governance