Research on evaluation use: A review of the empirical literature from 1986 to 2005

Kelli Johnson, Lija O. Greenseid, Stacie A. Toal, Jean A King, Frances P Lawrenz, Boris Volkov

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192 Scopus citations


This paper reviews empirical research on the use of evaluation from 1986 to 2005 using Cousins and Leithwood's 1986 framework for categorizing empirical studies of evaluation use conducted since that time. The literature review located 41 empirical studies of evaluation use conducted between 1986 and 2005 that met minimum quality standards. The Cousins and Leithwood framework allowed a comparison over time. After initially grouping these studies according to Cousins and Leithwood's two categories and twelve characteristics, one additional category and one new characteristic were added to their framework. The new category is stakeholder involvement, and the new characteristic is evaluator competence (under the category of evaluation implementation). Findings point to the importance of stakeholder involvement in facilitating evaluation use and suggest that engagement, interaction, and communication between evaluation clients and evaluators is critical to the meaningful use of evaluations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)377-410
Number of pages34
JournalAmerican Journal of Evaluation
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2009

Bibliographical note

Copyright 2009 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Evaluation influence
  • Evaluation use
  • Literature review
  • Research on evaluation
  • Stakeholder involvement


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