This article investigates the European Union’s evaluation system and its conduciveness to evaluation use. Taking the European Commission’s LIFE programme as its case, the article makes an empirical contribution to an emerging focus in the literature on the importance of organization and institutions when analyzing evaluation use. By focusing on the European Union’s evaluation system the article finds that evaluation use mainly takes place in the European Commission and less so in the European Parliament and the European Council. The main explanatory factors enabling evaluation use relate to the system’s formalization of evaluation implementation and use; these factors ensure evaluation quality, timeliness and capacity in the Commission. At the same time, however, the system’s formalization also impedes evaluation use, reducing the direct influence of evaluations on policy-making and effectively ‘de-politicizing’ programme evaluations and largely limiting their use to the level of programme management.
Evaluation, 2014, Vol 20, Issue 4, p. 428-446
European Commission; Evaluation systems; Evaluation use; LIFE programme; Programme management