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Latest research: The importance of conventions

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Authored by Dr Peter Hill PhD MSc BA (Hons), the research reflects current practices in cost-benefit analysis, arguing that traditional economic evaluations should not claim objectivity. Such claims are not only unrealistic but impossible.

“Politicians use statistics in the same way that a drunk uses lamp-posts – for support rather than illumination” (Lang, 1900).

Taking a fresh look into this field of research, Dr Hill debates new ways of undertaking the challenge of evaluating the cost of a project and its long term benefits.

“Many public and third-sector projects remain under/un-evaluated. Far too often, nobody is left after project closure to evaluate the long term benefits of public and third sector projects.

In the United Kingdom, demonstrating ‘Value for Money’ has become a central obligation of projects and programmes in the public and third sectors – an obligation which remains closely scrutinised by the National Audit Office who calls on organisations to demonstrate they are delivering their intended policy outcomes, while also showing economy, efficiency and effectiveness.  

The research explores how alternative conventions can be can be adopted to better explore social issues and associated moral judgements.

‘Perhaps Bezzi (2006) is correct: the evaluator should not seek an ‘objective truth’, but just the ‘truth’ surrounding those who are the subject of evaluation and the focus of policy.’

The report has laid the foundation for countless opportunities for future research, especially how frameworks such as SROI work in practice and how we can truly gauge what’s a project worth and to who?

Commenting on the research, research sponsor and APM research manager Daniel Nicholls said:

“This complex issue sits at the heart of many public organisations. As budgets and spending are put under ever greater scrutiny, it is vital our projects reflects the needs, wants and values of the stakeholders we are delivering project too. This research is pivotal in understanding the next steps to truly homing our industry’s skills in evaluating our projects and ensuring absolute value for money for the public purse.

Download the report 


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