Dissertation Abstracts

Comparing Program Theories and actual developments. The case of Citizen's Income in Naples

Author: Lumino, Rosaria , rosarialumino@libero.it
Department: Social Science
University: University of Naples Federico II, Italy
Supervisor: Dora Gambardella
Year of completion: 2010
Language of dissertation: Italian

Keywords: Theory Based Evaluat , Minimum Income , Poverty , Activation
Areas of Research: Poverty, Social Welfare and Social Policy , Theory


My doctoral research is concerned with the evaluation of a local minimum income scheme, known as Citizen's Income. Introduced in Campania (Southern Italy) from 2006 to 2010 as part of a temporary and experimental project, it was a means tested measure addressed to low-income families. The Citizen's Income provided a fixed allowance together with inclusion in social and non-mandatory activation programs.
The dissertation focuses on the evaluation of the social programs in the Naples area. These actions included: counseling and support to beneficiaries to access existing social and health care services, professional and education counseling, activities for promoting empowerment. The analysis is based on the Theory-Based Evaluation (TBE). It requires bringing program's assumptions to the surface in considerable detail: what activities are being conducted, what effect each particular activity will have, what the program does next, what the expected response is, what happens next, and so on, to the expected outcomes. The evaluation then follows each step in the sequence in order to assess whether the expected mini-steps are actually experienced or not. It helps knowing not only what the outcomes of a program are but also how and why those outcomes appear — or fail to appear. TBE provides information about the existing mechanisms between program activities and the achievement (or the non-achievement) of expected results and allows to identify the weaknesses of the program and / or its implementation. Therefore, it suggests direction of transformation for the improvement of program planning as well as for the development of prospective different and more effective strategies.
A major aspect of the evaluation project is the adoption of a participatory approach, based on the active involvement of different stakeholders (program designers, practitioners and beneficiaries). The participatory approach is a key element for understanding the different “languages” used by the wide range of actors involved, with the different nuances of meaning, beliefs, and cultural backgrounds at stake.
The research study was conducted over three years, following the various stages of implementation of the program. Hunting casual mechanisms has required solid understanding of the decision making context as well as a deep knowledge of program inputs and critical review of desired program goals.
I have built Program Theories by an inductive process, using different data sources: official documents produced by the municipal administration, observation, regular meetings for discussion and coordination with practitioners and Program designers, as well as focus groups with various stakeholders.
Next, I have compared the expectations generated by Program Theories with empirical data of monitoring and open-ended interviews with beneficiaries, to give body and voice at Program Theories and to think about the gap between Program Theories and actual developments.