Evaluation of the development companies Austria Wirtschaftsservice GmbH (AWS) and Forschungsförderungsgesellschaft mbH (FFG)
In evaluating the Austrian development companies Austria Wirtschaftsservice GmbH (AWS) and Forschungsförderungsgesellschaft mbH (FFG) the core of the question is whether and to which extent the aims and expectations of the merger of the development companies ten years ago have been met. These aims were (a) reducing the complexity of the organization and content, (b) solving intrinsic problems of coordination, (c) increasing the political controlability with respect to the target groups, (d) improving the prospects of implementing government objectives.
The question demands an approach which does justice to the complexity of the subject under investigation: Organizational change is subject to a number of influencing factors, a contra factual situation cannot be created and organizations often pursue with their actions hidden values and norms. We therefore focus on an approach of a "Theory Based Evaluation", i.e. concentrate on investigating questions such as which factors contribute to an observable change, why and how? This requires working out an understanding of the impact something should have, i.e. a theory of intervention. This makes assumptions and contextual influences explicit in order to be able to examine them with the aid of the methods employed. The evaluation approach is based on the Contribution Analysis as the overarching framework and the Process Tracing as the supporting research method. With the aid of this investigation a ‘contribution story‘ to support an effect is constructed. This is done by a method mix and multiple view approach in order to collect the assessments of different groups of persons of the structural reform, supported by data. The conceptual basis for the analysis of the implementation of the structural reform objectives are taken from different approaches which were tested within the context of past institutional evaluations. In particular these are the principal-agent theory, neo-institutionalism and the corporate culture approach according to Schein.