This article examines the connection between program evaluation research and decision-making by public managers. Drawing on neo-institutional theory, a framework is presented for diagnosing the pressures and conditions that lead alternatively toward or away the rational use of evaluation research. Three cases of public-nonprofit contracting for the delivery of major programs are presented to clarify the way coercive, mimetic, and normative pressures interfere with a sound connection being made between research and implementation. The article concludes by considering how public managers can respond to the isomorphic pressures in their environment that make it hard to act on data relating to program performance.
This publication is Hauser Center Working Paper No. 23. The Hauser Center Working Paper Series was launched during the summer of 2000. The Series enables the Hauser Center to share with a broad audience important works-in-progress written by Hauser Center scholars and researchers.