EVALUATION IN THE PLANNING DISCOURSE – AIM

An effort to clarify the role of deliberative evaluation in the planning and policy-making process
Thorbjoern Mann

PURPOSE / AIM

The purpose of this effort is drawn from evaluation issues encountered in the planning discourse platform project. What does it take to reach decisions based on the merit of discourse contributions? It first seemed enough to identify the various evaluation tasks we find throughout the planning process, in different disguises, to find common denominators and a coordinated vocabulary between these. Would this mean adopting one common perspective of the role and purpose of evaluation — among the several not universally shared perspectives, or a new one? If the platform aims at openness to all such perspectives, how should this discrepancy be dealt with?

More specifically: if new IT tools are used to facilitate evaluation tasks, is there a danger that these could be to narrowly based on one such perspective, become entrenched and end up excluding other views? It seemed necessary to go back to re-assess the basic concept of evaluation and its role in the planning and policy-making discourse. Whether that re-assessment could resolve the differences between different philosophical positions and lead to common ground, or identify incompatible approaches among which participants must choose in each specific planning situation, — open at this point — would set the direction for the platform design.

Within each perspective this effort will have to consider, there are several issues that should be examined for better solutions. New technology may offer solutions to problems traditionally dealt with by inconsistent means and shortcuts. So a more limited and modest aim of the project is to explore new ideas and possibilities for their constructive application in the planning discourse.

Comments? Suggestions? Wrong question?

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