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Journal Title: RIV Rassegna Italiana di Valutazione 
Author/s: Marina Forestieri 
Year:  2009 Issue: 45 Language: Italian 
Pages:  20 Pg. 93-112 FullText PDF:  709 KB
DOI:  10.3280/RIV2009-045008
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Recently, in Italy, following an international trend, Voluntary Service Centres (no profit organizations) are being pressed to demonstrate their performance and impact. These increasingly pressing requests are raising specific issues in the not-for-profit sector. This article proposes some reflections on these issues. To investigate them I put this experience in the context of those of similar organizations in others countries. To this effect, I review a vast literature, both theoretical and related to actual experiences. The review shows that despite efforts have been made under the aegis of the dominant positivist paradigm, progress has been little, and the evaluations conducted with this approach have limitations. Responding to the demand for impact evaluation, the community has privileged the accountability dimension rather than that of learning. There is, furthermore, a contrast between two types of accountability: upwards accountability, towards donors, and downwards accountability, towards beneficiaries. Organizations tend to use the first one, upwards accountability. I contend that this is misleading and produces a phenomenon described by Ebrahim as "myopia". With these reductive operations-stress on impact, upwards accountability, and the simplifications implicit in the positivist paradigm-evaluation fails to fully carry out its function. The article contends that stakeholder engagement and flexible approaches, as is confirmed by recent statements of the scientific community, are better suited for the organizations of non profit sector. In conclusion, I hope that by emphasizing the areas of evaluation that so far have been neglected, Voluntary Service Centres can develop their skills and play an innovators’ role in the area of evaluation, as they have done in so many areas in the past
Keywords: Downward accountability, Voluntary Service Centres,appropriate methods, codes of conduct

Marina Forestieri, in "RIV Rassegna Italiana di Valutazione" 45/2009, pp. 93-112, DOI:10.3280/RIV2009-045008


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