While mixed methods research is increasingly established as a methodological approach, researchers still struggle with boundaries arising from commitments to different methods and paradigms, and from attention to social justice. Combining two lines of work—social learning theory and the Imagine Program at the University of Brighton—we present an evaluation framework that was used to integrate the perspectives of multiple stakeholders in the program’s social interventions. We explore how this value-creation framework acts as a boundary object across boundaries of practice, specifically across quantitative and qualitative methods, philosophical paradigms, and participant perspectives. We argue that the framework’s focus on cycles of value creation provided the Imagine Program with a shared language for negotiating interpretation and action across those boundaries.
The value created by learning in communities of practice or networks is not always easy to articulate in ways that make sense to participants, sponsors, and stakeholders. Yet it is something that needs to be done, not only for monitoring and evaluation, but also for optimizing the learning of the community. We have developed a “value-creation framework” that focuses on how social learning makes a difference in the world via its effect on practice. The framework helps structure convincing accounts of the value of social learning by framing learning in terms of different cycles of value creation and loops between them. It integrates quantitative and qualitative data and can be used by professional evaluators as well as participants. In this paper we demonstrate the use of the framework in a project supported by the World Bank in Southern and Eastern Africa where it was used both for evaluation and for strategic renewal of a regional network of members of parliament and their clerks.