Evaluating the effectiveness of impact assessment instruments: Theorising the nature and implications of their political constitution

Document type: Journal Articles
Article type: Original article
Peer reviewed: Yes
Full text:
Author(s): Matthew Cashmore, Tim Richardson, Tuija Hilding-Ryedvik, Lars Emmelin
Title: Evaluating the effectiveness of impact assessment instruments: Theorising the nature and implications of their political constitution
Journal: Environmental Impact Assessment Review
Year: 2010
Volume: 30
Issue: 6
Pagination: 371-379
ISSN: 0195-9255
Publisher: Elsevier
URI/DOI: 10.1016/j.eiar.2010.01.004
ISI number: 000282851800005
Organization: Blekinge Institute of Technology
Department: School of Planning and Media Design (Sektionen för planering och mediedesign)
School of Planning and Media Design S-371 79 Karlskrona
+46 455 38 50 00
http://www.bth.se/dsn/
Language: English
Abstract: The central role of impact assessment instruments globally in policy integration initiatives has been cemented in recent years. Associated with this trend, but also reflecting political emphasis on greater accountability in certain policy sectors and a renewed focus on economic competitiveness in Western countries, demand has increased for evidence that these instruments are effective (however defined). Resurgent interest in evaluation has not, however, been accompanied by the conceptual developments required to redress longstanding theoretical problems associated with such activities. In order to sharpen effectiveness evaluation theory for impact assessment instruments this article critically examines the neglected issue of their political constitution. Analytical examples are used to concretely explore the nature and significance of the politicisation of impact assessment. It is argued that raising awareness about the political character of impact assessment instruments, in itself, is a vital step in advancing effectiveness evaluation theory. Broader theoretical lessons on the framing of evaluation research are also drawn from the political analysis. We conclude that, at least within the contemporary research context, learning derived from analysing the meaning and implications of plural interpretations of effectiveness represents the most constructive strategy for advancing impact assessment and policy integration theory.
Subject: Spatial Planning\Environmental Assessment
Keywords: Impact assessment, Policy integration, Effectiveness, Evaluation research, Political analysis, Power
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