‘Realist’ evaluation is receiving increasing attention from central government as an approach to assessing policy and programmes. Put simply, the approach requires evaluators to be considering not only “does this intervention work?”, but “for whom does the intervention work, how, and in what circumstances?” We are currently implementing this approach in our evaluation of DECC’s Electricity Demand Reduction pilot (now for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), assessing the contribution of the scheme to participant organisations’ reductions in peak electricity demand.
Databuild - a trading name of Winning Moves - has a strong interest in the approach and its practical application in programme and policy evaluation, in particular considering the balance of resource commitment between some of the more in depth elements (e.g. development of up front hypotheses) and going out into the field.
As one of the research consultancies pioneering the realist approach in the energy sphere, we have been invited to be a member of the Realist Evaluation in Government group, in which both policy teams and practicioners discuss the theory and practical implementation of realist evaluation and methods that can support its implementation. We will be reporting on an ongoing basis our experiences of delivering the approach – benefits, challenges and limitations.