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Exploring the learning potential of evaluation research by a review of 17 impact studies

Organizations find it important to evaluate the yield of training and development efforts in terms of work results and impact for the organization. Although the aim of impact studies is to learn more about the carry-over effects of learning interventions, it is possible that such an investigation itself carries learning potential. The current research explores this particular side-effect of evaluation research. The method consists of an analysis of 17 impact studies in 11 organizations. All impact studies have been carried out following similar steps that stem from the success case method.


Analysis of the meaningful moments during these investigations shows that learning takes place at various points in time of the research process. In particular, learning takes place during the construction of impact maps, during in-depth interviews and during the end presentation. Next to the researcher, various stakeholders are involved in these moments. Using the learning potential of this generative moments is in particular possible when the people involved work on a concrete product.