The paper comes from the observation that, although there is undoubtedly a multitude of evaluations of the planning of rural development, there doesn’t appear to be a similar number of studies and analyses of "the evaluation" itself and in particular of the analyses of complex evaluations like those of the Rural Development Programmes (RDPs). Through analyses and comparisons of ex-ante evaluation reports of the 21 RDPs in Italy, narratives of these evaluations are reconstructed with specific reference to methodological aspects, models and procedures adopted by evaluators. It is a real meta-evaluative exercise which will try to reconstruct the overall methodological path adopted by evaluators. Central interest is on how value judgements have been conceived and constructed. The paper intends to contribute to the debate on evaluative methodologies because it highlights the relevance of the methods and procedures used in the evaluative practice with respect to the complexity of the evaluative object.
Keywords: Meta-evaluation, ex-ante evaluation, Rural Development Programme