The principle of Integrity/Honesty also mirrors many of the issues articulated in the Standards.

The principle of Integrity/Honesty also mirrors many of the issues articulated in the Standards.

It addresses ethical concerns regarding negotiations with clients and relevant stakeholders, conflicts of interest, sources of financial support, misrepre- sentation of findings, and consideration of methods. Let us highlight two issues here: Guiding Principle C.5 explicitly states, “Evaluators should not misrepresent their procedures, data, or findings. Within reasonable limits, they should attempt to pre- vent or correct misuse of their work by others” (American Evaluation Association, 2004, Section C.5). Further, Principle C.6 notes that, “If evaluators determine that certain procedures or activities seem likely to produce misleading evaluative infor- mation or conclusions, they have the responsibility to communicate their concerns and the reasons for them [to the client]” (American Evaluation Association, 2004, Section C.6). These two principles put evaluators in an assertive position to prevent some of the ethical challenges encountered by evaluators in the research by Morris and Cohn (1993) described earlier.

Chapter 3 • Political, Interpersonal, and Ethical Issues in Evaluation 89

As noted, the Standards and Guiding Principles each provide a means for evaluators to convey to clients their professional obligations. The client has hired an evaluator because of his or her autonomy and expertise. Part of that expertise involves the sense of professionalism that comes from knowing and following the ethical standards of the profession. While evaluators have an obligation to inform clients of these Standards and Guiding Principles, conforming to them can be in the clients’ self-interest as well, by increasing the credibility of the evaluation.

Respect for People corresponds to Standard P.3, “Human Rights and Respect.” This principle and the related standard concern expectations about obtaining informed consent from those from whom data are collected and advis- ing participants regarding the scope and limits of confidentiality. The core of this principle is drawn from the ethical codes of many social sciences concerned with collecting data from individuals—for example, the American Psychological Association, the American Anthropological Association, and the American Educa- tional Research Association. New sections of this principle in 2004 focused on the obligation of the evaluator to understand the context of the evaluation, including the political, social, and economic climate of the program and its stakeholders. This addition built on the evaluator’s obligation to have cultural competence. However, it also emphasized the understanding that context and its political, social, and economic components were part of showing respect for people, which was the focus of this principle. Principle D also indicated that the evaluator should ensure that those who provide data do so willingly and do not feel forced into participa- tion out of fear that they may lose the services the program delivers if they decline to participate in the evaluation. Respect for people also reminded evaluators of their obligation to be sensitive to ethnic, cultural, and other differences among participants and stakeholders at all stages of the evaluation, from planning the evaluation to reporting its results.

The Guiding Principles represented a change from the standards developed in 1982 by the Evaluation Research Society, an earlier professional association, by including a greater focus on nonmethodological issues (Fitzpatrick, 1999). This is nowhere more evident than in Guiding Principle E concerning Responsibilities for the General and Public Welfare. This principle emphasizes the obligations of evalua- tors to include “relevant perspectives and interests of the full range of stakeholders,” to consider “not only the immediate operations and outcomes of whatever is being evaluated but also its broad assumptions, implications, and potential side effects,” to “maintain a balance between client needs and other needs” and to “go beyond analy- sis of particular stakeholder interests and consider the welfare of society as a whole” (American Evaluation Association, 1995, pp. 25–26). The inclusion of this principle has sparked dialogue about evaluators’ obligations to the public. Certainly, no eval- uator has a handle on exactly what the public good is, but Principle E reminds us that our obligation is broader than our particular obligation to the client. Practicing eval- uators must also consider the needs of society. Our role might be to stimulate dia- logue about those needs or to involve stakeholders in considering the implications of program actions. This principle also might prompt the evaluator to call attention to the need to collect data on unintended side effects of a policy or program either on

90 Part I • Introduction to Evaluation

the direct clients served or on others who may be indirectly affected by the program. Whatever action is taken, Principle E reminds evaluators to attend to the implications of the program for the community and society as a whole.

In fact, Principle E addresses a concern raised by Smith (1983) prior to the emergence of the Guiding Principles and the 1994 Standards. He criticized the writ- ing then on evaluation ethics for focusing solely on methodological issues. Smith wrote:

Much of the work in evaluation ethics (i.e., the moral behavior of an individual as a professional evaluator) which has been done to date has focused on evaluation moral issues such as confidentiality of data, protection of human subjects, proper profes- sional behavior, and so on. Little has been done on program moral issues, such as: Is this mental hospital placing the community at risk by its early release of patients? Is this nursing home meeting residents’ physical needs but at the cost of their human rights of privacy, freedom of movement, and individual expression? Is this educa- tional program for talented students enhancing cognitive skills but reinforcing their emotional dependency on special recognition and privileges? (1983, p. 11)

Principle E addresses Smith’s concerns by stating that the evaluator does have an obligation to consider the moral or ethical issues that arise as a result of the pro- gram itself.

Readers are encouraged to visit the American Evaluation Association web site ( to download brochures of the Guiding Principles that can be used to acquaint clients and stakeholders with evaluators’ professional obligations and to make use of the additional training materials and readings provided there.

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