Pragmatic ex-ante evaluation using an innovative conceptual framework
The case of a high-tech entrepreneurship program for women
Program designers at local project level usually design interventions under conditions of scarce resources and bounded rationality lacking sufficient information about the process and impact mechanisms of the complex social programs they design and implement. This paper proposes a model for pragmatic ex ante evaluation using an innovative conceptual framework for practitioners working in the field to improve gender equality in research and innovation. The presented and applied model is pertinent to the theory-oriented evaluation tradition using a logic frame and a theory of change approach adapted to the special requirements of ex-ante evaluation. The model is illustrated by the case study of a program for the promotion of women entrepreneurship in the STEM fields. It is concluded that in a setting with limited resources and information, ex-ante evaluations should aim at defining clear conditions of proportionality and need to take into account the extent to which contextual factors hinder or facilitate the implementation of a program, and the specific institutional and system mechanisms at play, in order to enable proactive risk management from the beginning.