Full citation

Ottoson, J.M. (2009). Knowledge-for-Action Theories in Evaluation: Knowledge Utilization, Diffusion, Implementation, Transfer, and Translation. New Directions for Evaluation, (124), 7-20.

Format: Peer-reviewed article

Type: Research — Non-experimental

Experience level of reader: Fundamental

Annotation: The author describes and differentiates five knowledge-for-action theories (or processes): knowledge utilization, diffusion, Implementation, transfer and translation. Evaluation considerations are provided for each process.

Setting(s) to which the reported activities/findings are relevant: Federal lab, Government, University

Knowledge user(s) to whom the piece of literature may be relevant: Policy Makers, Researchers

Knowledge user level addressed by the literature: Organization

This article uses the Commercial Devices and Services version of the NtK Model

Primary Findings

Measures:

  • When evaluating the success of a knowledge-for-action process, one of the factors that should be considered is the reasonableness of the time it takes for the knowledge to be acted upon (or applied) by stakeholders.
    Literature review and application of knowledge processes to evaluation.
    Occurrence of finding within the model: KTA Stage 3, KTA Step 6.F, KTA Step 7.F
  • When evaluating the success of a knowledge-for-action process, one of the factors that should be considered is the fidelity or integrity of the knowledge at its point of application (in contrast to its original research-based form).
    Literature review and application of knowledge processes to evaluation.
    Occurrence of finding within the model: KTA Step 3.F, KTA Step 6.F, KTA Step 7.F

Tips:

  • Evaluators can use a translation lens to look at knowledge use when their primary objective is to understand fidelity-related characteristics of knowledge use.Special attention is paid to the language associated with knowledge use. Evaluators should work closely with stakeholders to identify and account for fidelity-related influences.
    Literature review and application of knowledge processes to evaluation.
    Occurrence of finding within the model: KTA Stage 1, KTA Stage 2, KTA Stage 3
  • Evaluators can use a transfer lens to look at knowledge use when their primary objective is to understand what knowledge is being moved, and why and how it is being moved. Special attention is paid to the characteristics of how the knowledge moves between stakeholders. Evaluators should work closely with stakeholders to identify and account for movement-related influences.
    Literature review and application of knowledge processes to evaluation.
    Occurrence of finding within the model: KTA Stage 1, KTA Stage 2, KTA Stage 3
  • Evaluators can use an implementation lens to look at knowledge use when their primary objective is to understand the socio-political aspects of knowledge use. Special attention is paid to the distribution of power among stakeholders and any related implications associated with negotiating knowledge value. Evaluators should work closely with stakeholders to identify and account for socio-political influences.
    Literature review and application of knowledge processes to evaluation.
    Occurrence of finding within the model: KTA Stage 1, KTA Stage 2, KTA Stage 3
  • Evaluators can use a diffusion lens to look at knowledge use when their primary objective is to understand how the knowledge spreads across the targeted setting and how the characteristics of knowledge adopters can vary with time. [p11,para2] Special attention is paid to the mechanics of how the knowledge moves between stakeholders.Evaluators should work closely with stakeholders to identify and account for spread and time-related influences.
    Literature review and application of knowledge processes to evaluation.
    Occurrence of finding within the model: KTA Stage 1, KTA Stage 2, KTA Stage 3
  • Evaluators can use a knowledge utilization lens to look at knowledge use when their primary objective is to understand the context of knowledge use and how its use impacts practice. Evaluators should work closely with stakeholders to identify and account for contextual influences.
    Literature review and application of knowledge processes to evaluation.
    Occurrence of finding within the model: KTA Stage 1, KTA Stage 2, KTA Stage 3
  • Allegiance to a specific knowledge process (e.g., knowledge translation) can be institutionalized. Stakeholders should make sure they understand the context and implications associated with this form of commitment.
    Literature review and application of knowledge processes to evaluation.
    Occurrence of finding within the model: KTA Stage 1, KTA Stage 2, KTA Stage 3