Exploring ways to reconcile accountability and learning in the evaluation of niche experiments

B.J. Regeer, Renée de Wildt-Liesveld, Barbara van Mierlo, J.F.G. Bunders

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


While evaluation is seen as a mechanism for both accountability and learning, it is not self-evident that the evaluation of niche experiments focuses on both accountability and learning at the same time. Tensions exist between the accountability-oriented needs of funders and the learning needs of managers of niche experiments. This article explores the differences in needs and expectations of funders and managers in terms of upwards, downwards and internal accountability. The article shows that as the multi-stakeholder contexts in which niche experiments take place give rise to various requirements, tensions in evaluation are essentially a specific manifestation of tensions between niche experiments and their multiple contexts. Based on our findings, an adjusted accountability framework is proposed, including several strategies that can reconcile a learning approach with accountability needs in niche experiments aiming to change current practices in a more sustainable direction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6-28
JournalEvaluation : The International Journal of Theory, Research and Practice
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • accountability
  • alignment
  • evaluation
  • learning
  • niche experiments


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