Evaluation and Realist Synthesis
How do we assess when an organisation or system is working well? How do see what is going awry when it is not? Social network research maps topographies of interaction and communication but it cannot evaluate the system (organisational) level outcomes, the improvements or deterioration of an organisation’s efficiency (if we measure material outcomes) or the quality its social life (if we consider intangibles). Certainly the implied promise of social network research is that improvements in the informal, social networks within the organisation will have pay-offs for its functioning and efficiency, but these pay-offs, social or material, need to be assessed independently of the social network interventions. In applied situations or consultancies the social network research is only the initial task, the applied work involves sharing the findings and generating discussion and desirable change within the organisation.
Evaluation research uses social science research methods to measure such outcomes. Program evaluations are one of its mainstream applications where before and after assessments seek to gauge the efficacy (or otherwise) of a program of change. Evaluation researchers now have a serious intellectual program of ‘realist’ theory and synthesis that addresses the sorts of concerns that social network researchers also have with intra-organizational network studies.
To learn more about the realist approach, methodology and synthesis https://networkresearchlab.com/uncategorized/realistic-evaluation-pawson-and-tilly/
To see my discussion of projects I have been involved with: