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Workshop: Theory based evaluation for complex systems (Brisbane 5 and 6 May 2016)

Many policies and programs are implemented in large systems, or expect to make changes at multiple levels of a system. Many approaches to program theory either assume that the program itself is simple, or ignore the implications of context for whether and how programs work. This two-day workshop will introduce participants to various approaches to ‘systems’, ‘complexity’ and ‘context’, and skills and strategies for working with complex systems.

5th May, 2016 to 6th May, 2016
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Day one of this program will introduce various approaches to ‘systems’, ‘complexity’ and ‘context’. Participants will explore the implications for program design and for commissioning and conducting evaluations, and in particular, the many uses of theory for dealing with complexity.

Day two will focus on skills and strategies for evaluators working with complex systems. It will present a particular approach for

  • ‘Layering’ systems, program theories and formal theories from different disciplines; and
  • Using formal theories for evaluation design and analysis of evaluation findings.

Implications for tendering, managing evaluations, and reporting will also be discussed.

The workshop is designed for evaluators and researchers, policy makers, strategic policy analysts, program designers, performance and quality improvement staff and others interested in conceptualising 'what works in complex systems’?

Each day will involve presentations, practical examples, small group work and whole group discussion.

About the presenter

Dr Gill Westhorp is an internationally-recognised specialist in realist research and evaluation methodologies, with an interest in the relationship between realist and complexity theories. She is Director of a small research and evaluation consultancy company; a Professorial Fellow at Charles Darwin University; an Associate at RMIT University; a member of the core team for the RAMESES I and RAMESES II projects based in Oxford, UK; and a member of the Advisory Committee for the Centre for the Advancement of Realist Evaluation and Synthesis (CARES) at Liverpool University, UK.


Date and Time: Thursday 5 and Friday 6 May 2016, 9am to 5pm (registration from 8.30am)
Location: Maida Lilley Centre, Level 1, 5 Green Square Close, Fortitude Valley Qld 4006
Presenter: Gill Westhorp
Register by: Monday 2 May 2016
Fees: GST inclusive): Members $770, Non-members $935, Student member $385, Student non-member $550