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Craig Russon describes a decade of efforts to link a growing number of regional and national evaluation organizations into a worldwide community through the International Organization for Cooperation in Evaluation.

Congratulations to The Evaluation Exchange on its 10-year anniversary. It is an interesting coincidence that the growth in the worldwide community of evaluators began at about the same time that The Evaluation Exchange began publication. Prior to 1995, there were only five regional and national evaluation organizations: American Evaluation Association (AEA), Australasian Evaluation Society (AES), Canadian Evaluation Society (CES), Central American Evaluation Association (ACE), and European Evaluation Society (EES). Today there are about 50! For a number of years, efforts have been made to create a loose coalition of these evaluation organizations.

These efforts date back to the 1995 international conference in Vancouver, British Columbia, sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and Canadian Evaluation Society. The theme of the conference was “Evaluation for a New Century—A Global Perspective.” Delegates from 50 countries attended the event and many came away thinking about evaluation in new ways. A couple of years later, a discussion took place on the EvalTalk listserv regarding the international nature of the profession. One of the principal issues discussed was the creation of a federation of national evaluation organizations.

As a result of that discussion, the International & Cross-Cultural Evaluation Topical Interest Group (I&CCE) convened a panel of six regional and national evaluation organization presidents. The Presidents Panel was a plenary session at the 1998 annual meeting of the AEA (Russon & Love, 1999). The purpose of the panel was to discuss the creation of a “worldwide community of evaluators.” One of the outcomes of the panel was the decision to move slowly ahead with this project. A proposal was developed and funding was obtained from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) to take the next step.

February 18–20, 1999, a residency meeting was held in Barbados, West Indies, to discuss the issues associated with creating this worldwide community (Mertens & Russon, 2000). The meeting was attended by the leaders of 15 regional and national evaluation organizations from around the world. Also in attendance were observers from WKKF, the University of the West Indies, the Caribbean Development Bank, and the UN Capital Development Fund. Through intense negotiations, the group was able to identify the purposes, organizational principles, and activities that would underpin the worldwide community. A drafting committee that represented the diverse nature of the group was selected to develop a charter for what would come to be called the International Organization for Cooperation in Evaluation (IOCE).

It took nearly a year for the charter to be endorsed by all of the organizations that were represented at the Barbados meeting. Then the charter was presented to the rest of the regional and national evaluation organizations around the world. With the support of the worldwide community of evaluators, a second proposal was developed and additional funding was obtained from WKKF. Members of the drafting committee met March 8–10, 2002, in the Dominican Republic and formed an Organizing Group to plan the inaugural assembly of the IOCE. Among the principal issues that the Organizing Group discussed during the meeting were participation, format, agenda, advanced processes, location, and secretariat.

These efforts culminated in the inaugural assembly of the IOCE. The event took place March 28–30, 2003, in Lima, Peru. It was attended by 40 leaders from 26 regional and national evaluation organizations from around the world (Russon & Love, 2003). An important objective that was achieved during the inaugural assembly was that a provisional constitution was endorsed. The constitution sets out the mission and organizational principles of the IOCE. The mission of the IOCE is:

. . . to legitimate and strengthen evaluation societies, associations, or networks so that they can better contribute to good governance and strengthen civil society. It will build evaluation capacity, develop evaluation principles and procedures, encourage the development of new evaluation societies and associations or networks, undertake educational activities that will increase public awareness of evaluation, and seek to secure resources for cooperative activity. It will be a forum for the exchange of useful and high quality methods, theories, and effective practice in evaluation.

Despite its short life, the influence of the IOCE is already being felt. Several new Latin American evaluation organizations were formed in advance of the IOCE inaugural assembly (e.g., Brazil, Colombia, and Peru). These organizations have joined with the Programme for Strengthening the Regional Capacity for Evaluation of Rural Poverty Alleviation Projects in Latin America and the Caribbean (PREVAL) and the Central American Evaluation Association (ACE). Together, they launched a regional organization called the Network for Monitoring and Evaluation of Latin America and the Caribbean (ReLAC) in Sao Paulo, Brazil, during September 2003. ReLAC and its member organizations are all affiliated the IOCE. Through the IOCE, a system of evaluation organizations is being created that will help us reinterpret the work that we have done in the past decade. It may suggest some ways that we should do our current work. And lastly, it may provide some insights into where we want to take this work in the future.

Mertens, D., & Russon, C. (2000). A proposal for the International Organization for Cooperation in Evaluation. The American Journal of Evaluation, 21(2), 275–284.

Russon, C., & Love, A. (2003). The inaugural assembly of the International Organization for Cooperation in Evaluation: The realization of a utopian dream. Manuscript submitted for publication.

Russon, C., & Love, A. (Eds.). (1999). Creating a worldwide evaluation community (Occasional Paper Series, No. 15). Kalamazoo: The Evaluation Center, Western Michigan University. [Available at]

International Evaluation Organizations

African Evaluation Association
American Evaluation Association
Association Comorienne de Suivi et Evaluation (Comoros)
Associazione Italiana de Valuatazione (Italy)
Australasian Evaluation Society (Australia and New Zealand)
Bangladesh Evaluation Forum
Botswana Evaluation Association
Brazilian M&E Network
Burundi Evaluation Network
Canadian Evaluation Society
Central American Evaluation Association
Danish Evaluation Society
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Evaluation (Denmark)
Egyptian Evaluation Association
Eritrea Evaluation Network
Ethiopian Evaluation Association
European Evaluation Society
Finnish Evaluation Society
Ghana Evaluators Association
Ghana Evaluation Network
International Program Evaluation Network (Russia/Newly Independent States)
Israeli Association for Program Evaluation
Japanese Evaluation Association
Kenya Evaluation Association
Korean Evaluation Association
La Société Française de l’Evaluation (France)
Malawi M&E Network
Malaysian Evaluation Society
Namibia Monitoring Evaluation and Research Network
Nepal M&E Forum
Network for Monitoring and Evaluation of Latin America and the Caribbean
Nigerian Evaluation Association
Programme for Strengthening the Regional Capacity for Evaluation of Rural Poverty Alleviation Projects in Latin America and the Caribbean
Reseau Malgache de Suivi et Evaluation (Malagasy)
Reseau Nigerien de Suivi et Evaluation (Nigeria)
Reseau Ruandais de Suivi et Evaluation (Rwanda)
Société Quebecoise d’Evaluation de Programme
Société Wallonne de l’Evaluation et de la Prospective (Belgium)
South African Evaluation Network
Spanish Public Policy Evaluation Society (Spain)
Sri Lanka Evaluation Association
Swiss Evaluation Society
Thailand Evaluation Network
Ugandan Evaluation Association
United Kingdom Evaluation Society
Utvarderarna (Sweden)
Zambia Evaluation Association
Zimbabwe Evaluation Society

Craig Russon
Evaluation Manager
W. K. Kellogg Foundation
One Michigan Avenue East
Battle Creek, MI 49017
Tel: 269-968-1611

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