Program evaluation in a cross-cultural context: Action research, program logic and youth justice in Thailand

lcj-14-coverMatthew J Willis & Adam M Tomison

LCJ: Special Issue: Evaluation, 14, pp. 128-143

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Willis, M.J., & Tomison, A.M. (2014). Program evaluation in a cross-cultural context: Action research, program logic and youth justice in Thailand. Learning Communities: International Journal of Learning in Social Contexts [Special Issue: Evaluation], 14, 128-143. DOI:



Using the evaluation of a multi-faceted juvenile justice project as a case study, we demonstrate how applying an action research approach to program logic development provided a way of arriving at shared understandings of evaluation in a cross-cultural, cross-language context. The paper explores work undertaken by the Australian Institute of Criminology for the Thailand Department of Juvenile Justice and Observation to support the evaluation of the Justice for Our Youth (JOY) project, a complex project aimed at improving outcomes for young offenders by improving the quality of service offered by the Department. We describe a workshop conducted in Thailand where the authors provided capacity-building for Thai officials in program monitoring and evaluation and then worked with the officials to apply the learning from this part of the workshop to developing program logic models and identifying data and information needs for the JOY program evaluation. The utility of Participatory Action Research (PAR) and program logic approaches to working in a cross-cultural, cross-language context are discussed and their application to other cross-cultural situations is considered. The authors conclude that PAR can provide a valuable and appropriate model for establishing mutual understanding and trust in such contexts, but also recognise that the realities of difference and distance can reduce the ability of evaluators to apply PAR in a way that represents best practice.


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