Vic Murray, University of Victoria, 2004. Available as pdf
Abstract: This paper reviews the underlying theoretical bases for the evaluation of organizational performance. It then examines representative samples of empirical research into actual evaluation practices in a variety of nonprofits in Canada, the U.S. and Britain. Some of the most popular tools and systems for evaluation currently recommended by consultants and others are then reviewed. Looking at this prescriptive literature, it is shown that, by and large, it takes little account of the findings of empirical research and, as a result, its approaches may often prove ineffective. An alternative that attempts to integrate the research findings with practical tools that has value for practitioners is then be suggested.
It is a perplexing, but not uncommon, phenomenon in the world of nonprofit organization studies how little connection there is between the work of those who offer advice on how organizations in this sector might become more effective and that of those who carry out formally designed empirical research into how these organizations actually behave. Nowhere is this gap between “how to” and “what is” more apparent than in the field of performance assessment and evaluation.