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NCJ Number: 64274 Find in a Library
Title: SOCIAL EXPERIMENTS - THE PROMISE AND THE PROBLEMS (FROM PROGRAM EVALUATION IN THE PUBLIC SECTOR, 1979, BY ALBERT C HYDE AND JOY M SHAFRITZ - SEE NCJ-64272)
Author(s): A M RIVLIN
Corporate Author: Praeger Publishers
United States of America
Date Published: 1979
Page Count: 5
Sponsoring Agency: Praeger Publishers
Westport, CT 06881
Type: Program/Project Evaluation
Format: Document
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: THIS ARTICLE DISCUSSES AND ANALYZES THE SOCIAL EXPERIMENTS OF THE 1970'S, THOSE SYSTEMATIC EFFORTS TO TRY OUT NEW POLICE OR VARIANTS OF POLICIES IN ADVANCE OF NATIONAL ADOPTION.
Abstract: THESE INCLUDED DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT LOW-INCOME PEOPLE; AN OFFICER OF ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY HEALTH INSURANCE EXPERIMENT; AND A SERIES OF FIELD TESTS OF HEALTH MAINTENANCE ORGANIZATIONS DIRECTED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH, EDUCATION, AND WELFARE. THE EXPERIMENTS PREVIOUSLY UNTRIED AND OFTEN COMPLEX POLICY INNOVATIONS WERE APPLIED TO THE REAL, NONLABORATORY WORLD AND WERE CONTROLLED STATISTICALLY FOR AS MANY OUTSIDE INTERFERENCES AS POSSIBLE. RESULTS WERE COMPOSED WITH THE ESTIMATED RESULTS OF OTHER POLICIES. THE 5 OR 6 YEARS OF EXPERIMENTING WITH SOCIAL EXPERIMENTATION, HOWEVER, SHOWED THAT THE NEW TOOL WAS EXCEEDINGLY TRICKY AND HARD TO USE SKILLFULLY AND THAT IT RAISED SERIOUS DILEMMAS FOR THOSE ENGAGED IN DESIGNING, CARRYING OUT, AND INTERPRETING SOCIAL EXPERIMENTS. THERE WERE DESIGN PROBLEMS ARISING FROM THE CONFLICT BETWEEN THE DESIRE TO OBTAIN VALID, RELIABLE RESULTS AND THE DESIRE TO OBTAIN RESULTS QUICKLY AND AT LOW COST. THERE WERE IMPLEMENTATION DILEMMAS SINCE POLICY BEING TESTED WOULD BE TRANSFERRED EVENTUALLY TO A NATIONAL PROGRAM AND WOULD BE CARRIED OUT BY PEOPLE WITH THEIR OWN IDEAS, STRENGTHS, AND WEAKNESSES. EVALUATION ITSELF WAS ANOTHER PITFALL SINCE EVALUATORS WERE INVOLVED WITH THE PROJECT AND COULD HARDLY BE OBJECTIVE. TIMING COMPLICATIONS AND DIFFICULT MORAL QUESTIONS ALSO SURFACED. FINALLY, PROBLEMS RELATING TO THE OPENNESS OF EXPERIMENTS AND THE INDIVIDUAL'S RIGHT TO PRIVACY OCCURRED. ALTHOUGH IT IS PREMATURE TO MAKE SUBSTANTIVE CONCLUSIONS FROM MOST SOCIAL EXPERIMENTATION, SOME GENERALIZATIONS ARE POSSIBLE ABOUT THE METHOD ITSELF: THE EXPERIMENTS ARE FEASIBLE WHEN THE TREATMENT IS A SIMPLE ONE, BUT IT IS AN OPEN QUESTION WHETHER MORE COMPLEX EXPERIMENTS ARE FEASIBLE. (MJW)
Index Term(s): Evaluation; Policy analysis; Program evaluation; Program evaluation review techniques; Program implementation; Program monitoring; Social service agencies
Note: REPRINTED FROM EVALUATION, V 1, N 2 (1973), P 77-78
To cite this abstract, use the following link:
http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=64274

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