Step 7: Evaluating Results of Performance Monitoring

“True genius resides in the capacity for evaluation of uncertain, hazardous, and conflicting information.”
Winston Churchill (1874-1968)
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

Evaluation activities “…have seldom invoked enthusiasm among coastal managers or among politicians or bureaucrats.”
Professor Steven Olsen
University of Rhode Island

What are the characteristics of a quality evaluation?

The characteristics of a quality evaluation include:

Impartiality: The evaluation should be free of political or other bias and deliberate distortions. The information should be presented with a description of its strengths and weaknesses. All relevant information should be presented, not just that which reinforces the views of the agencies responsible for marine planning;

Usefulness: Evaluation information needs to be relevant, timely, and written in an understandable form. It also needs to address the questions asked, and be presented in a form and best understood by the marine planning agency(s);

Technical adequacy: The information needs to meet relevant technical standards—appropriate design, correct sampling procedures, accurate wording of questionnaires and interview guides, appropriate statistical or content analysis, and adequate support for conclusions and recommendations;

Stakeholder involvement: There should be adequate assurance that the relevant stakeholders have been consulted and involved in the evaluation effort. If the stakeholders are to trust the information, take ownership of the findings, and agree to incorporate what has been learned into ongoing and new policies, programs, and projects, they have to be included in the political process as active partners. Creating a façade of involvement, or denying involvement to stakeholders, are sure ways of generating hostility and resentment toward the evaluation;

Feedback and dissemination: Sharing information in an appropriate targeted, and timely fashion is a frequent distinguishing characteristic of evaluation utilization. There will be communication breakdowns, a loss of trust, and either indifference or suspicion about the findings themselves if: (a) evaluation information is not appropriately shared and provided to those for whom it is relevant; (b) the evaluator does not plan to systematically disseminate the information and instead presumes that the work is done when the report or information is provided; and (c) no effort is made to target the information appropriately to the audience for whom it is intended; and,

Cost-Effectiveness: Spend what is needed to gain the information, but no more. Gathering expensive data that will not be used is not appropriate—nor is using expensive strategies for data collection when less expensive means are available. The cost of the evaluation needs to be proportional to the overall cost of the MSP program.

Video: Nico Nolte on evaluating results in Germany

  • The main objectives of MSP in Germany are related to safe shipping, promotion of renewable energy, and environmental protection
  • We already have examples of successes:
    • MSP has introduced priority shipping lanes
    • Areas for offshore wind development have been designated
    • Wind turbines are prohibited within marine protected areas

Go back to Step 6: Monitoring Indicators of Management Performance or continue reading Step 8: Communicating Results