Stakeholder-Based Evaluation and Value Judgments
AbstractThe nature of values in stakeholder-based evaluations is discussed. One key value judgment involves the selection of stakeholder groups for participation. In the first major section of this article, the role of values in such selection is emphasized by considering two dimensions on which stakeholder groups may vary—power and legitimacy. It is shown that the selection of stakeholder groups can be based on a rationale for stakeholder-based evaluation; however, the choice of a rationale for stakeholder participation is itself a value judgment, implicitly or explicitly. Further, in implementing a rationale, value judgments are required, particularly if the rationale involves empowerment and democratization. In a second section, the consequences of stakeholder par ticipation are discussed. Although numerous commentaries imply positive effects, much is not known, such as the type or level of stakeholder involvement required for effective participation. Further, stakeholder participation may serve as a means of preempting criticism by stakeholders, or may be a form of pseudoempowerment. Ironically, the evaluator may autocratically designate which groups participate in a process meant to empower democratically. Finally, some suggestions are made about how evaluators might better deal with the value judgments inherent in stakeholder-based evaluations, and, more generally, how stakeholder-based approaches to evaluation might be improved.