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Explaining Evaluation Utilization in Parliaments: The Case of Switzerland


Daniela Eberli, PhD candidate at Zurich University will present at Laval University, on Thursday (21 april 11:45 to 13:00) a conference about Evaluation Utilization in Swiss Parliaments. Location : Laval University, Pav. De-Koninck – Office 3470


Policy evaluations assess the design, the implementation, and the effects of public policies and consequently provide very action-oriented knowledge for the decision makers in the parliament. In this very political arena, it is assumed that policy evaluations are predominantly used for purposes of argumentation or legitimization and less for making sound decisions. However, few studies have looked at parliamentarians as users of policy evaluations. This is also true for Switzerland, which belongs to one of the leading countries with respect to the institutionalization of evaluation.
After a short overview of the overall research project, the presentation focuses on the role of the level of conflict for evaluation use. For this purpose, four case studies of policy processes in two cantonal parliaments are presented. The case studies show that evaluations were most often used both to get informed and to gather political support in the comparatively moderately contested case. This somewhat contradicts previous research, as it is assumed that the need for evaluations for political purposes is strongest in situations with a high level of conflict. The case studies further reveal the central role of the administration and the framing of the conflict, and therefore underline the importance of contextual factors to better understand the use of evaluations, and more generally knowledge, in policymaking. 

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