CECAN Fellowship: Institutional Cultures and Methodological Approaches to Public Policy Evaluation of Complex Nexus Areas



Focus: To build capacity across CECAN in relation to raising awareness and understanding of the various institutional cultures[1] that exist within Government Departments and Agencies, which may influence the choice, use and perceptions of methodological approaches (i.e. qualitative, quantitative, hybrid and mixed) in policy evaluation (from the perspective of both commissioners and evaluators) in complex nexus settings.

To support the CECAN team’s understanding of how an acknowledgement of institutional cultures can inform, and benefit, the approaches taken (and their likelihood of success) to introduce and sustain methods innovation in the context of complex nexus policy evaluation.


1. Drawing on institutionalist literature and associated theoretical approaches, review the current state of research on the links between institutional cultures and the perceptions, choices and uses of methods in policy evaluation.

2. Produce new empirical evidence, via key informant interviews with members from CECAN’s co-funders and a 1-day workshop, highlighting how judgements are formed regarding the relative value and quality of methods (and the evidence they supply) for policy evaluation. Topics would include:

  • what institutional barriers, constraints, challenges and opportunities are in operation that influence the choice of methods;
  • what methodological approaches and methods are considered “superior” and “inferior”, why this is, and whether this is changing;
  • whether there are differences between Departments and Agencies in relation to these issues, and if so, what may account for these; and
  • what implications do these issues hold for institutional cultures with regards to their capacity to innovative methods-wise in an evaluation context

3. The Fellow would draw on CECAN members with expertise in methods innovation and facilitate a working group to discuss the evidence/issues, and also link to relevant case studies.

4. The Fellow would provide writing support for a blog, EPPN and peer-reviewed paper.


1. Blog and EPPN on the institutional cultural determinants of methods use for evaluation in complex policy environments (nexus).

2. A peer-reviewed paper on institutional culture and its capacity to shape and influence judgements regarding the relative value of methods for policy evaluation, and the implications this has for a) the selection and application of particular methods in complex policy evaluation contexts and, b) the ability to introduce and sustain methods innovation within a complex evaluation environment.

3. CECAN workshop

Outcomes: Increased capacity for CECAN to understand how institutional cultures affect the perceptions and uses of methods within an evaluation context, and how these “cultural norms” may subsequently impact the feasibility and effectiveness of methods innovation.

Connect to the analysis of case studies by drawing out key themes regarding the use of qualitative, quantitative, hybrid and mixed methods in evaluation, which could then subsequently inform the targeted analysis of case studies in these areas.

Mentors: Karen Scott (primary), Adam P Hejnowicz (secondary)


HOW TO APPLY: Please see our main Fellowship page for details of how to apply.


[1] By institutional cultures, we mean the formal and informal institutional structures and functions (in Government departments and agencies) which give rise to particular cultural modes of behaviour (i.e. rules, practices and narratives).

CECAN - funded and supported by the following organisations