When paradigms meet: interacting perspectives on evaluation in the non-profit sector

Cristina Neesham, Leanne McCormick, Michelle Greenwood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


This study examines a public debate in Australia, arising from a national government report, around how social contribution in the nonprofit sector should be assessed. Guided by several meta-perspectives on evaluation, we identify connections between foundational assumptions and normative positions on evaluation espoused by non-profit organizations (NPOs), and examine the ways in which the inter-paradigmatic context of the non-profit sector contributes to the emergence of NPOs’ different normative positions on evaluation. We conclude that particular paradigmatic orientations of NPOs (positivism, interpretivism, constructivism) lead to particular perspectives on how NPOs should engage with alternative paradigms (monism, impartial pluralism, radical pluralism).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)192-219
Number of pages28
JournalFinancial Accountability and Management
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - May 2017


  • evaluation paradigm
  • evaluation theory
  • inter-paradigmatic context
  • nonprofit sector
  • NPO assessment

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