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AES Systems Evaluation Special Interest Group

Systems Evaluation Special Interest Group (SIG) registration

Systems SIG Description for Members
The Systems Evaluation SIG is focused on the benefits of systems concepts and systems thinking, and the alternative sciences of social complexity for designing and determining the value of any given policy, program, initiative, or intervention (PPII).

Evaluators are able to pivot between prevailing evaluation practices and those informed by the language, concepts and theories of systems thinking, and the fast growing sciences of social complexity for:
  •  describing PPIIs and the man-made and natural systems into which they are thrust;
  • understanding the organisational dynamics of public value organisations that commission and use evaluation;
  • claims about the value of any given PPII to include explicit consideration of the contextual dynamics in which it is situated.
To facilitate a respectful discourse that provides space to discuss different conceptions of systems with a mindset of a ‘mutually disputatious community of respectful truth seekers’ committed to finding common ground and exploring differences.

We recognise there are many professional groups focused on systems thinking, and of social complexity. Our values and priorities focus on what we as evaluators might best contribute to this topic.
  • Pragmatic: focusing on ameliorating real world problems.
  • Egalitarian: respectful of all people who chose to associate with the SIG and open to discussion of all points of view.
  • Mateship: informally helping out our peers without expectation of reward or esteem.
  • Distrustful of authority: skeptical of the ‘one-way right way’ of doing systems evaluation.
  • Evaluation over research: focusing on the value of interventions into man-made and natural systems. We are cautious of generalised statements about ‘what works’ or ‘social impact’ as too often driven by methods for determining past value in a particular context rather than what might work elsewhere and elsewhen.
  • Focused on the public good: we are interested in human social systems and our man-made and natural systems that we inhabit and influence as they are the focus of attention of public or collective decision making. Also, as man-made complex conscious systems, policy action systems that use evaluation as part of their formal feedback, learning and adaption processes can be understood as complex systems. 
1. Would you like to become a member of the Systems SIG?
It's free to join and just means we will keep you up to date on what is going on in the SIG.