Using theory-based evaluation to assess communications approaches.
This paper reports on the testing of measures for evaluating different approaches to engaging citizens in projects that encourage them to adopt more sustainable energy use behaviours. It is a central notion of stakeholder theory that ‘bottom-up’ approaches, where individuals are actively involved rather than passive, are preferable to ‘top-down’ authority-led projects. But this general agreement on the need for participation of stakeholders in order to progress towards sustainable development exists alongside a dearth of evidence from comparative evaluations. A comparative study examined six distinct communication activities aimed at encouraging individuals to adopt more sustainable behaviours. Each used a variety of different approaches to communicate, some participative and others more top-down informational. Key theories from the fields of behavioural studies and communication were used to identify the variables to consider in this evaluation. Findings confirmed the added value of a bottom-up approach compared to other mechanisms and identified that the difference between the groups was in the extent to which they implemented their intentions to change behaviour, suggesting that participative methods offer a more supportive environment for this to take place. The measures used in this study may be useful to other evaluations comparing different communicative approaches.
Citation : Wilson, C., Irvine, K. and Mill, G. (2010) Using theory-based evaluation to assess communications approaches. International Energy Program Evaluation Conference, Paris, France, 9-10 June 2010, IEPEC
Research Group : Institute of Energy and Sustainable Development
Peer Reviewed : Yes