The experimental versus the pragmatic paradigm: Summary and conclusions

Daniel B. Fishman

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In this article I review and draw conclusions from the use of the experimental and pragmatic paradigms in the six case studies presented in this Special Feature section. First, the studies are summarized in terms of the paradigms. They are then analyzed using the conceptual matrix presented in Table 3 of my introductory article to this section. This matrix looks at a study paradigmatically in terms of two cross-cutting dimensions: (a) type of study result with regard to paradigm mix and (b) areas of impact of the paradigm mix, such as the study's theory, data collection methodology, and the relationship the study has to those who funded it. This analysis illustrates two points: (a) The experimental and pragmatic paradigms have different goals that are frequently in competition for the same study resources, (b) The paradigms can function in a fully complementary manner only when there are (as in the Elias study) an explicit and systematic conceptual model for interrelating the two types of goals and a strategy for attaining resources to accomplish both. It is concluded that in planning an evaluation study, researchers should pay attention not only to a program's substantive goals, but also to its epistemological goals-those of both the researchers themselves and the study 's funders and other stakeholders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)403-409
Number of pages7
JournalEvaluation and Program Planning
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1991

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business and International Management
  • Social Psychology
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Strategy and Management
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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