Is Realist Evaluation a Realistic Approach for Complex Reforms?
Five areas of regulation under the reform were selected and hypotheses on the context, mechanism and outcome (CMO) for each intervention were formulated. The evaluation of three of these interventions is summarized: opening of markets to foreign trade, price regulation of monopolies and consumer protection. The conclusion is that the CMO framework is applicable not just to interventions at the programme level, but also to large scale public sector reform characterised by high technical complexity and strong policy coalitions.
However, it only serves as a general framework, which has to be substantiated. This is done firstly, by generating theories on each specific intervention: that is, programme theories. Second, we produce theories at the meso level which identify the institutional patterns that function as conditions for the effects to be obtained.