Method and Lessons from Evaluating the Impact of E-Participation Projects in MOMENTUM

Method and Lessons from Evaluating the Impact of E-Participation Projects in MOMENTUM

Maria A. Wimmer, Melanie Bicking
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8358-7.ch021
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Decreasing election turnouts and citizens' disinterest in democracy galvanized the European Commission (EC) to co-fund a set of e-participation pilot projects. During the runtime of the program, and in particular after the last projects ended in 2010, policy makers at European level were keen to know how well this funding program performed. Hence, the EC also initiated a project called MOMENTUM with the aim to monitor and evaluate the progress and impact of the projects. MOMENTUM designed and performed a systematic comparative analysis of the projects. This chapter presents the impact evaluation framework, which is based on methods of evaluation from empirical research, thereby also reflecting programmatic contexts of the projects. The evaluation framework grounds the interplay of elements of a holistic e-participation solution: the participation process, the topics to discuss, the policy supported, and the technology and tools deployed. The authors present results of the evaluation and demonstrate how attention on the interrelations of these issues affect users' perception and motivation to participate in an e-participation endeavor. Insights show that the method developed can lead to useful and usable impact analysis and evaluation results. The survey results provide valuable clues to the behavioral intention of the civil society to use e-participation tools and applications. These findings provide not only information on whether and how far the monitored projects are successful but also why they succeeded or failed and how they can be improved.
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Evaluation Theories And Frameworks To Measure Impact

According to the European Commission, impact evaluation “identifies and assesses the problem at stake and the objectives pursued”2. Impact evaluation assesses the final purposes of a particular policy instrument or a package of instruments (Hamelink et al 2008). Enhanced impact evaluation also provides information why a policy instrument performed different (better or worse) as expected in order to derive best practices or feedback for improving worse cases.

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