If it ain´t evaluated, don´t fix it! The Politics of Evaluability in Occupational Health and Safety

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While the ideal of ever-more systematic evaluation is cherished in the
European Union (EU) and elsewhere, it remains difficult to provide robust evaluation results when evaluability is low. This paper uses evaluability assessment as a theoretical–analytical tool to explore the policy/evaluation interface in a contemporary context characterized by multilevel governance. What is the political function of (low) evaluability? This article comprises a case study of a policy instrument, workplace assessments, which have taken place for the last 30 years under Danish legislation as a consequence of EU framework directive 89/391 on occupational health and safety. The study includes a review of the most recent EU evaluation of the above-mentioned framework directive, other documents, and preliminary survey results. The official evaluation results are meagre due to seven underlying challenges to evaluability found at various levels of governance. The relatively low political priority given to occupational health and safety as a policy area may help explain why little has been done over three decades to increase the evaluability of the policy instruments prescribed by the framework directive. Low evaluability contributes to keeping a policy area free from potential contestation, especially in a normative context where evaluative evidence is a precondition for rational policy change
Original languageEnglish
JournalPolitische Vierteljahresschrift
Pages (from-to)743-761
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 16 Nov 2019

    Research areas

  • Faculty of Social Sciences - Evaluation, Evaluabilit, Evaluability assessment, Politics of evaluation, Occupational Health and Safety

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