A critical exploration of culture in international development evaluation

Jill Anne Chouinard, Rodney Hopson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


In this article we provide a comprehensive review of 71 studies on evaluation in international development contexts published over the past 18 years. Te primary purpose of the review is to explore how culture is being conceptualized and defned in international development contexts and how evaluation practitioners, scholars, and/or policymakers who work in international development evaluation frame the role of culture and cultural context in these settings. In this article we ask: How is culture framed in the international development evaluation literature? To what extent do descriptions of evaluation (design, processes, and outcomes) re?ect other knowledge and value systems and perspectives? Whose values and worldviews inform the evaluation design and methodology? How does the community's cultural context inform the evaluation methodology and methods used? Based on our analysis, we identify and discuss fve themes: the manifestation of culture along a continuum from explicit to implicit, a cultural critique of participatory practice in international development, the limits of social constructivist epistemologies and representations of voice, evaluation as a cultural practice, and cultural engagement and the multifaceted evaluator role.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)248-276
Number of pages29
JournalCanadian Journal of Program Evaluation
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Cultural context
  • Culture
  • International development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Library and Information Sciences


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