Evaluating EU regional policy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article presents a challenge to the ways in which EU regional policy has been evaluated in the past. Given the complexity of the 'policy framework' and its objectives, it is argued that existing evaluation methodologies are not only inappropriate but create a real risk of misleading policy-makers in their search for identifying which programmes and initiatives are the most effective in tackling the scale of regional disparity that exists across the European Union. For example, the search for an 'average effect' of intervention, whether in terms of jobs created or GVA generated, does not adequately recognise the context within which policy operates. The article argues that only by attempting to adopt a realist evaluation framework can the discourse on effective regional policy be advanced. Examples are provided from a body of work on the evaluation of business support interventions in the UK as well as a broader study of the way in which regulations impacts upon firm performance and growth. This methodological approach provides an opportunity for the evaluator to identify the causal mechanisms which connect the range of policy interventions and their outcomes. In brief, it has greater potential to inform the policy-maker as to what works and, more importantly, in what contexts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)295-308
Number of pages14
JournalPolicy Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2007


  • EU regional policy
  • evaluation
  • evaluation methodologies
  • policy-makers
  • realist evaluation framework
  • regional policy


Dive into the research topics of 'Evaluating EU regional policy'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this