Evaluating the Complex

This book, edited by Forss, Marra and Schwartz, provides a detailed discussion of different aspects of complexity and cases of evaluations with particular attention to issues of causal attribution and contribution.


In the economic atmosphere following the crisis of 2008, not only have governments reacted by creating more complex policy initiatives, but they have also promised that all of these initiatives will be evaluated. Due to the complexity of many of the initiatives, the ways of evaluating are becoming equally complex.

The book begins with a theoretical and conceptual explanation of the process and shows how this translates into the practice of evaluation. The chapters cover a wide variety of subjects, such as poverty, homelessness, smoking prevention, HIV/AIDS, and child labor. The use of case studies sheds light on the conceptual ideas at work in organizations addressing some of the world’s largest and most varied problems.

The evaluation process seeks a balance between order and chaos. The interaction of four elements—simplicity, inventiveness, flexibility, and specificity—allows complex patterns to emerge. The case studies illustrate this framework and provide a number of examples of practical management of complexity, in light of contingency theories of the evaluation process itself. These theories in turn match the complexity of evaluated policies, strategies, and programs. The evaluation process is examined for its impact on policy outcomes and choices.


  • Introduction - Kim Forss and Robert Schwartz
  • Implications of Complicated and Complex Characteristics for Key Tasks in Evaluation -Patricia J. Rogers
  • Contribution Analysis: Addressing Cause and Effect - John Mayne
  • Micro, Meso, and Macro Dimensions of Change: A New Agenda for the Evaluation of Structural Policies - Mita Marra
  • Coping with the Evaluability Barrier: Poverty Impact of European Support at Country Level - Jacques Toulemonde, Douglas Carpenter, and Laurent Raffier
  • Monitoring and Evaluation of a Multi-Agency Response to Homelessness: An Australian Case Study - Peter Wilkins
  • Evaluating a Complex Policy in a Complex Context: The Elusive Success of the Swiss Smoking Prevention Policy - Markus Spinatsch
  • Intervention Path Contribution Analysis (IPCA) for Complex Strategy Evaluation: Evaluating the Smoke-Free Ontario Strategy - Robert Schwartz and John Garcia
  • Responding to a Global Emergency and Evaluating That Response - The Case of HIV/AIDS - Kim Forss
  • Evaluating Complex Strategic Development Interventions: The Challenge of Child Labor - Burt Perrin and Peter Wichmand
  • Challenges in Impact Evaluation of Development Interventions: Randomized Experiments and Complexity - Jos Vaessen
  • Some Insights from Complexity Science for the Evaluation of Complex Policies - Mita Marra


Note: This book is available to purchase as either a hard copy from Transaction Publishers or as a Google eBook


Forss, K., & Marra, M., & Schwartz, R. (Eds) (2011) Evaluating the Complex. Attribution, Contribution and Beyond, Transaction Publishers. Retrieved from: http://www.transactionpub.com/title/-978-1-4128-1846-9.html