Sport policy evaluation: what do we know and how might we move forward?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
483 Downloads (Pure)


Evaluation, a product of the movement for evidence-based policy, is a key step in policy cycles. However, many studies existing in sport policy literature have failed to address underpinning methodologies in a rigorous manner and to provide justification for the use of certain measures handpicked by evaluators. As yet, no study has explicitly reflected on the value of evaluation or has systematically discussed how mainstream evaluation theories have been used in sport policy studies. Such articulation is necessary in order to provide researchers with additional resources for making informed and strategic methodological choices and to ensure the quality of their analysis. Thus, this paper discusses the development of evaluation in general, and examines existing literature on sport policy evaluation. It then goes on to outline four especially noteworthy public policy evaluation frameworks: experimental design, constructivist evaluation, utilisation-focused evaluation, and realist evaluation. Next, it uses a specific example to highlight the strengths of realist evaluation as a tool for unpacking additionality and understanding the logic of theory. In conclusion, the paper suggests using theory-based evaluation frameworks (specifically, realist evaluation) to inform sport policy failure or success for future sport evaluation research.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Sport Policy and Politics
Publication statusPublished - 24 Jul 2018


  • Policy evaluation
  • Sport
  • Realist evaluation
  • Theory-based evaluation


Dive into the research topics of 'Sport policy evaluation: what do we know and how might we move forward?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this