Evaluation is an intrinsic element informing all elements of the process of policy making. Few individuals have ever set about formulating a policy that will guide their future conduct without having some reason, however absurd it may be, that has not been based on at least a subjective evaluation of what the policy might achieve. This is even more certain when the policy is a decision affecting a group of individuals, let alone the conduct required of the citizens of a town or nation. Evaluation takes place in the minds of activists from the moment a suggestion for change enters their heads. Often these formative ideas are rejected immediately as cursory evaluation reveals it to be either impractical or morally unacceptable. If an idea does initially seem to be a possible course for action within the mind of a policy activist, it must be communicated to others who will also subject it to further cursory evaluation as it begins to advance towards a publicly recognised proposal. Through these initial stages the policy ideawill be combined with similar notions from other activists and will be further refined and reshaped and then further re-evaluated. These iterative procedures can on occasion lead to the development of new initiatives and the continuation of a policy cycle. Once the policy is implemented it is, of course subject to evaluation especially from those who experience the effects of the policy, if not always by those who championed the policy. Much of what may be termed evaluation in earlier policy studies, however, tends to

be post implementation evaluation which is not always undertaken by governments and their agencies and, when it is, will often be an impressionistic rather than a grounded or scientific approach. Policy evaluation in older studies tends, therefore, to be positioned as a chapter following the consideration of policy implementation. Public policy is by no means always fully evaluated by the governments that have enacted the innovation. Moreover any enquiries and evaluations are far from being dispassionate reviews of the potential or actual effectiveness of policy ideas. The more a policy is refined within the working of a government or, for that matter, opposing political interests, the more evaluation ceases to be a meaningful title for what may be being practised in relation to the refinement and legitimation of the policy ideas. As policy advocates and gate-keepers become more and more ideologically infused with particular ideas and are increasingly seen as identified with a specific approach to a policy problem, the more their self and public esteem is identified with that issue. It is at this point that the dispassionate evaluation may tend to drop by the wayside and the interest of the policy advocates is not to evaluate but to validate by seeking and proselytising arguments and evidence that support the case for their preferred policy solution and by attempting to undermine rival arguments supporting other policy solutions. This chapter will, therefore, first review more conventional positivist views on

evaluation and then the views of Pawson et al. on realistic evaluation, before turning to the realpolitik of validation.