Accountability, value for money, results‐based management, audits and evaluation are prominent themes in state‐social economy interactions in Canada today. Community economic development organizations have been put on the defensive by the federal government’s discourse and administrative requirements associated with performance measurement. Drawing on the fields of management, public policy and program evaluation, as well as local‐level case studies,this paper advances three inter‐related arguments: First, there is an emerging “tool‐box” of evaluation methods and techniques that appropriately and efficiently assess the impacts of CED initiatives. Second, recent applications of these tools indicate that CED organizations and social enterprises generate significant non‐financial value‐added and social return on tax payer investment, that is, blended value. Third, civil society has an opportunity now to take the offensive and gain control of the evaluation agenda. Stakeholder participation can be mobilized to define results frameworks and indicators, and demonstrate the value for money produced by the CED sector.
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Prepared for the First World CIRIEC Research Conference on the Social Economy, Victoria, British Columbia, October, 2007. Parts of this paper were also presented to the Annual Conference of the Canadian Evaluation Society, Winnipeg, Manitoba, May, 2007.