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Valérie Pattyn receives Veni funding for research on policy evaluations

Valérie Pattyn has received Veni funding for her project Policy evaluations evaluated. When do they prompt an overhaul of policies? 'I am really looking forward to immerse myself in this study, and I am enormously grateful for this unique opportunity'.

Policy evaluations have a crucial role for policy makers to know whether policies 'work'. Numerous researchers and consultants carry out policy evaluations, and the budget that governments worldwide invest in policy evaluations is huge and increases year by year. Nevertheless, concerns about the limited relevance of evaluation research have grown substantially. Even in settings with a high level of evaluation institutionalisation, evaluations are often not used; and when they are, they risk resulting merely in quick fixes of policies, rather than enabling fundamental reassessments and changes in those policies.

How policy evaluations can lead to fundamental policy changes

Despite decades of research on the phenomenon of evaluation use, we do not know the conditions under which policy evaluations prompt an overhaul of existing policies, and how they do this. In the project, Pattyn will study and compare the impacts of a whole series of evaluations that have recently been carried out in the Netherlands, Belgium and Switzerland in different policy areas characterized by different levels and modalities of evaluation institutionalization. Pattyn: 'This way I want to understand how we can design policy evaluations in the best possible way, both procedurally and organisationally. 

Ultimately, I hope the research will contribute to a better use of public funds for evaluation research, and of course to better policy. With this research, that enables me to investigate this issue, I hope to make a strong contribution to both research and theorisation on policy evaluation, as well as policy practice. And it is precisely this double ambition that I find very important and that drives me as a researcher. I am really looking forward to immerse myself in this study and I am enormously grateful for this unique opportunity. '

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