Theory-Based Evaluation Meets Ambiguity: The Role of Janus Variables

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


As theory-based evaluation (TBE) engages in situations where multiple stakeholders help develop complex program theory about dynamic phenomena in politically contested settings, it becomes difficult to develop and use program theory without ambiguity. The purpose of this article is to explore ambiguity as a fruitful perspective that helps TBE face current challenges. Literatures in organization theory and political theory are consulted in order to cultivate the concept of ambiguity. Janus variables (which work in two ways) and other ambiguous aspects of program theories are classified and exemplified. Stances towards ambiguity are considered, as are concrete steps that TBE evaluators can take to identify and deal with ambiguity in TBE.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAmerican Journal of Evaluation
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)6-23
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2018

    Research areas

  • Faculty of Social Sciences - theory-based evaluation, program theory, participatory evaluation , evaluation use, ambiguity

Number of downloads are based on statistics from Google Scholar and

No data available

ID: 182535989