W5 – Q3: Do you think there are consequences for the increase in demand for better measurement and evaluation? Good, bad, or both? 

Traditionally PD was not measured for its impact, which resulted in the increase of demand for measurement and evaluation of PD programs and projects. In the lack of an evaluation history, current academics and practitioners are struggling to find ways in which PD can be measured, to create baseline data which to be used as reference points and comparison now and in the future. Measurement and evaluation are especially important, considering that PD is not only about opinion, but also about social impact and action (or non-action, e.g. ISIS example).

There are several positive and negative consequences tied to the increased demand for PD measurement and evaluation (M&E). On the positive side, as Banks has mentioned in his 2011 paper, M&E will contribute greatly to improved PD – among others, in terms of allocation of resources; best practices; motivation for further improvement; honest insight of PD achievements and expectations; and offering an alternative to hard power.

The increased demand for PD M&E also has a few negative consequences. With practitioners trying to meet the M&E standards and requests in order to justify their spending requests, more and more PD programs are being designed in order to be measured (and most probably result in success stories). While designing for measurement is exactly what PD needs, the most crucial factor in PD should not be measurability, but rather effect or impact. It is not easy to design a PD program which serves its aim and is able to prove its effect. With regards to this, Banks has also laid out the ‘dirty dozen’, or challenges of M&E for PD. Banks M&E challenges list, among others, includes the high costs of M&E; the threats of continuity linked to changes of staff; the growing emphasis on multilateral partnerships, which make it harder to define the source of impact; as well as the confusion between output and outcome M&E models; to mention some.

I think that the process of adopting regular M&E processes in PD is hardest now, in the phase where it is being properly established. The increased demand for M&E has its positive and negative consequences, out of all of which there is plenty to learn and apply, in order to create a good M&E basis for PD in the future.

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One thought on “W5 – Q3: Do you think there are consequences for the increase in demand for better measurement and evaluation? Good, bad, or both? 

  1. I strongly agree with Nertile’s idea that measurement and evaluation are especially important since public diplomacy is not only about opinion, but also about the social impact and action.

    Public diplomacy scholars and practitioners have employed different definitions of public diplomacy that have proven problematic. We thus argue that definitions that don’t take account of changes in public diplomacy might negatively impact measuring success of strategic communication or public diplomacy.

    According to and research, an examination of major public diplomacy programs reveals that they are centered on immeasurable goals where they tend to consider outputs rather than outcomes and concentrate on the wrong indicators thus suffering from a lack of appropriate methods for conducting an audience analysis (Pahlavi, 2007). For effective measurement of public diplomacy projects, a clear separation of outputs from outcomes based on public diplomacy goals is necessary.

    Overall, M&Es used for estimating the impact of public diplomacy in terms of audience and opinion has also proven problematic as they lead to production of evaluations that are mostly approximations and fragmented (Pahlavi, 2007). Realistic estimates of the public diplomacy, especially the influence on public opinion ought to include new dimensions to raw audience figures.

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