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Evaluation of Networks PDF Print E-mail

Networking is an ever more consolidated strategy in the social field and in the working of services. Networks usually emerge between public and private organisations and the tertiary sector to confront social, training and community development problems. However, in order for networks to be maintained in the long-run, they do need to undergo recurrent monitoring and coherent evaluation. In particular, networking needs to be monitored and evaluated in some specific areas:

  • Relationship with the social, economic, cultural and institutional contexts where the networks emerge and develop;
  • In their internal workings, an area related to the traditional communication, decision-making, coordination and leadership processes;
  • Results based on the output of work. That is, how well social problems are actually dealt with, benefits for service-users, effects on the system of services and on the local community;

The results of monitoring and evaluative activities concerning networks are important in the phase of decision-making at various levels: operational and technical, strategic and political, economic and institutional. Beginning with an activity of description and analysis (Network Analysis), evaluation indeed allows, through specific indicators, for reasoned self and second-party evaluative judgements to be arrived at.

Thanks to research undertaken on the occasion of an Equal Az.3 project (Equal Inter-network project for the Provinces of Bolzano, Bologna and Reggio Emilia and the Council of Monza, 2005), the Italian Institute of Evaluation has developed an evaluation of networks model, named "Against Exclusion", made up of forty indicators related to various areas. In the last few years, the model has been successfully applied to the evaluation of networks of various kinds and in different contexts.

In the evaluation of networks, the evaluator facilitates the organisers who form the network to express reasoned judgements of evaluation and converses with them from the standpoint of a critical friend.