Methodological issues in the meta-evaluation of the sporting legacy of the 2012 Games : observations on the application of the meta-evaluation methodology

Henry, Ian

In this paper we will reflect on the experience of the meta-evaluation commissioned by the UK Government’s Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to evaluate the legacy of the London 2012 Olympic Games, and in particular the experience of application of the methodology to the thorny issue of evaluating legacy. The Olympic meta-evaluation study was commissioned from a consortium led by the Grant Thornton consultancy, and incorporating Ecorys and the Centre for Olympic Studies and Research at Loughborough University (the author being a member of the consortium’s writing team). This paper has three principal foci. The first is clarification of the meta-evaluation approach, what it seeks to achieve, and what it can deliver for an analysis of impacts and legacies of the Olympic Games. The second is a focus on additionality and the problems of assessing what changes or impacts can be said to be truly additional i.e. impacts or legacies truly attributable to the hosting of a games (as opposed to outcomes which would have happened anyway). The conceptualisation of additionality employed was promoted by the DCMS in its framing of the requirements for the meta-evaluation study, and here we focus on some of the problems associated with the application of this conceptual framework. The third focus is on some practical difficulties of teasing out the impact of the Games employing the meta-evaluation framework

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