From the Beginning: Negotiation in Community Evaluation

negotiation5From the Beginning: Negotiation in Community Evaluation

Siobhan Sharkey BA (Hons); PhD; RN; Cert Ed (Adult)
Senior Lecturer, University of Stirling

Ann Sharples BA (Hons) Doctoral Student
Research Fellow, Bournemouth University

Abstract

This article explores negotiation skills and discusses their relevance for
evaluators. It is argued that the ‘interpersonal skills’ required of researchers and
evaluators is underplayed and that evaluators would benefit from improving skills
which enable them to make decisions alongside stakeholders, in particular in
community evaluations. Negotiation skills are explored using a case study of a
Sure Start programme evaluation in a UK setting, and recommendations are
made on how to utilise elements of negotiation in community programme
evaluation. Literature on stakeholder involvement and negotiation is discussed
together with the UK case. Key skills are highlighted, including attention to:
working with emotional situations, face-giving, rapport and creativity, timing,
perceptions and improvisation.

Introduction

Evaluation of complex community-based initiatives (CCIs) is an important facet of
improving health and reducing inequalities in the UK (Sullivan et al. 2004; Judge,
2000). Successful evaluation of community based initiatives is arguably a
collaborative effort by all stakeholders. Recognising the ‘multitude of actors’
(Alexander, 2003) involved in any given piece of evaluation activity, the role of
networking, and shared learning, acknowledges the growing importance of
partnership and whole systems approaches within evaluations (Bauld et al 2005).
These types of principles are variously incorporated into a wide range of
community programmes and provide the mechanism for evaluators to engage
with complexity.

From the Beginning: Negotiation in Community Evaluation

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