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CPE Week: José M. Díaz–Puente on the Empowerment Evaluator’s Role

I am José M. Díaz-Puente, professor of the Technical University of Madrid (Universidad Politécnica de Madrid–UPM) where I am member of the Research Group GESPLAN on Sustainable Planning and Management of Rural/Local Development. I have worked with participatory and empowerment evaluation approaches in rural areas of Europe and Latin America.

I would like to share with you a few ideas based on my experience regarding the goal and evaluator’s role when applying an empowerment approach in the evaluation of rural/local development programs.

Goal: The empowerment evaluator has to be focused on facilitating: A leading role and full responsibility of the stakeholders with regard to the internal evaluation system and all monitoring tools; and a collaborative role and some responsibility with regard to the summative evaluations.

Hot Tip:

Evaluator’s role: Evaluator’s roles have been described with all these words: facilitator, educator, consultant, counselor, collaborator, critical friend, interpreter and mediator, among others.  Each of these terms adds something to the evaluator’s involvement in the evaluation process. In my experience of applying EE with development programs, I usually define the role of evaluation professionals with two words:

  • Evaluator, which refers to professionalism and, in turn, provides credibility to the evaluations made. It is the role that leads to meeting the donor’s requirements (production of credible evaluation documents) and is more related to the evaluation findings.
  • Facilitator, which refers to the establishment of evaluation capacity among the participants (i.e., their role as educators, collaborators, critical friends and counselors). It is the role that leads to the building of capacity in the stakeholders to undertake their own internal evaluation process and is more related to the process of evaluation.

Rad Resource:

  • Article on EE: Evaluation Review

Díaz-Puente, J.M., Yagüe, J.L., Afonso, A. (2008) Building Evaluation Capacity in Spain: A Case Study of Rural Development and Empowerment in the European Union. Evaluation Review, 32(5), 478-506.

It is a case study from Spain that provides an example of the diffusion of evaluation culture through the use of an empowerment evaluation approach to build evaluation capacity within the context of rural development.

I hope these ideas can be of any use to you to reflect on your own work with EE.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Collaborative, Participatory & Empowerment Evaluation (CPE) Week with our colleagues in the CPE AEA Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our CPE members and you may wish to consider subscribing to our weekly headlines and resources list where we’ll be highlighting CPE resources. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice.


1 comment

  • David Fetterman · March 22, 2011 at 1:07 pm


    Good to hear from you. Thanks for highlighting two key points:

    1. the evaluator as professional (representing a form of credibility, quality control, rigor, and so on)
    2. facilitator as coach or critical friend helping people develop evaluation capacity

    The two go hand in hand in the real world of funded projects.

    Give my regards to Alfonso as well if you would. Take care.

    – David

    PS For those who have not met Jose – previous to his current position as professor of the Technical University of Madrid, he was a Fulbright Scholar working with me at Stanford in the School of Medicine. I would highly recommend that you read his article about his empowerment evaluation work in rural Spain.


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