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Qualitative cost-benefit evaluation of complex, emergent programs


  • Rogers, Patricia J.
  • Stevens, Kaye
  • Boymal, Jonathan


This paper discusses a methodology used for a qualitative cost-benefit evaluation of a complex, emergent program. Complex, emergent programs, where implementation varies considerably over time and across sites to respond to local needs and opportunities, present challenges to conventional methods for cost-benefit evaluation. Such programs are characterized by: ill-defined boundaries of what constitutes the intervention, and hence the resources used; non-standardized procedures; differing short-term outcomes across projects, even within the same long-term goals; and outcomes that are the result of multiple factors and co-production, making counter-factual approaches to attribution inadequate and the use of standardized outcome measures problematic. The paper discusses the advantages and limitations of this method and its implications for cost-benefit evaluation of complex programs.

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  • Rogers, Patricia J. & Stevens, Kaye & Boymal, Jonathan, 2009. "Qualitative cost-benefit evaluation of complex, emergent programs," Evaluation and Program Planning, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 83-90, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:epplan:v:32:y:2009:i:1:p:83-90

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Manning, Matthew & Homel, Ross & Smith, Christine, 2006. "Economic Evaluation of a Community Based Early Intervention Program Implemented in a Disadvantaged Urban Area of Queensland," Economic Analysis and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(1-2), pages 99-119, March/Sep.
    2. van den Bergh, Jeroen C. J. M., 2004. "Optimal climate policy is a utopia: from quantitative to qualitative cost-benefit analysis," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(4), pages 385-393, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. Mihic, Marko M. & Todorovic, Marija Lj. & Obradovic, Vladimir Lj., 2014. "Economic analysis of social services for the elderly in Serbia: Two sides of the same coin," Evaluation and Program Planning, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 9-21.


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