Sad, but true

Does the craze for “evaluation” stifle innovation?

The Nonprofiteer, commenting on the notion that charities should serve as laboratories, demonstrating programs that can then be taken over by government or business:

Charities can’t serve as laboratories for anything. The main product of any laboratory is failure–and, as the current craze for evaluation demonstrates, most donors will tolerate nothing less than triumph. Perhaps the charitable sector does have something to learn from business, after all–that the only way to generate return is to run risk.

Used properly, evaluation is a great idea. Used as it’s actually used, it’s mostly a way to stifle innovation. What the gods (or, in this case, the holders of the purse-strings) wish to destroy, they first evaluate.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: