Date of Award


Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Psychology, PhD


School of Social Science, Politics, and Evaluation

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Leslie Fierro

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Tarek Azzam

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Tiffany Berry

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Isabelle Bourgeois

Terms of Use & License Information

Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

© 2020 Kathleen Doll


evaluation, evaluation capacity building, evaluation planning, evaluation use, evaluative thinking, strategic planning


Strategic planning has been both studied and utilized for decades in the business management sphere with high levels of success (Wolf & Floyd, 2017). More recently the act of strategic planning has been translated to the public sector, ushering in a wave of perceived benefits for organizational performance and learning (Bryson, Edwards, & Van Slyke, 2018). Extrapolation from these other fields suggests that strategic planning may be a mechanism to improve the practice of program evaluation (Preskill & Mack, 2013). While there are a few guiding frameworks for strategic evaluation planning initiatives, these frameworks have not been systematically documented or explored. As such, there is limited understanding of the current use of strategic planning in the field of program evaluation. To address this gap, this study used an exploratory concurrent multi-phase mixed method design, leveraging a document review, survey, interviews, and a case study, to (1) systematically investigate the current landscape of strategic evaluation practices, (2) examine what factors contribute to the decision for an organization to undergo a strategic planning initiative, (3) explore the components involved in the process of creating a strategic evaluation plan, (4) understand how strategic evaluation initiatives are implemented, and (5) investigate the unique contributions the process and implementation of strategic evaluation plans may offer the field of evaluation. Findings reveal common rationales for engaging in strategic evaluation work (i.e., a desire for organizational alignment, systematic decision-making, prioritizing evaluation efforts across wide portfolios), and guidance on conducting strategic evaluation initiatives (i.e., engaging a diverse team, leveraging incentives). In addition, the study offers evidence of the benefits associated with strategic evaluation initiatives, such as creating a shared understanding among stakeholders, providing alignment across programs, evaluations, and missions, as well as increasing the perceived value of evaluation. In sum, this study provides the first systematic investigation of strategic evaluation initiatives in practice and highlights some of the perceived barriers, facilitators, and outcomes associated with their use. Findings suggest that strategic evaluation initiatives may serve as an intervention to promote process use, foster evaluative thinking, and build evaluation capacity among stakeholders. Ultimately, this study offers evaluation practitioners tangible actions that can be adopted when advancing the use of evaluation.