Promoting evaluation capacity building in a complex adaptive system

Frances Lawrenz, Elizabeth Kunz Kollmann, Jean A. King, Marjorie Bequette, Scott Pattison, Amy Grack Nelson, Sarah Cohn, Christopher L.B. Cardiel, Stephanie Iacovelli, Gayra Ostgaard Eliou, Juli Goss, Lauren Causey, Anne Sinkey, Marta Beyer, Melanie Francisco

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This study provides results from an NSF funded, four year, case study about evaluation capacity building in a complex adaptive system, the Nanoscale Informal Science Education Network (NISE Net). The results of the Complex Adaptive Systems as a Model for Network Evaluations (CASNET) project indicate that complex adaptive system concepts help to explain evaluation capacity building in a network. The NISE Network was found to be a complex learning system that was supportive of evaluation capacity building through feedback loops that provided for information sharing and interaction. Participants in the system had different levels of and sources of evaluation knowledge. To be successful at building capacity, the system needed to have a balance between both centralized and decentralized control, coherence, redundancy, and diversity. Embeddedness of individuals within the system also provided support and moved the capacity of the system forward. Finally, success depended on attention being paid to the control of resources. Implications of these findings are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)53-60
Number of pages8
JournalEvaluation and Program Planning
StatePublished - Aug 2018


  • Case studies
  • Complex adaptive systems
  • Evaluation capacity building
  • Networks

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    Lawrenz, F., Kollmann, E. K., King, J. A., Bequette, M., Pattison, S., Nelson, A. G., Cohn, S., Cardiel, C. L. B., Iacovelli, S., Eliou, G. O., Goss, J., Causey, L., Sinkey, A., Beyer, M., & Francisco, M. (2018). Promoting evaluation capacity building in a complex adaptive system. Evaluation and Program Planning, 69, 53-60.