Local Government Studies vol:37 issue:5 pages:533-552
In this article three cases of territorial reform affecting the local tier of government in Belgium are analysed from an evaluation perspective. The debate and discourse preceding the centrally introduced reforms were screened in order to identify which types of evaluative criteria and governmental motives underpinned the reforms. On the other hand, the authors looked at evaluations of these reforms that had been commissioned by government, in order to sketch out the evaluation criteria and perspectives. Criteria in the preceding debate and in the ex-post evaluations are compared within each case, as well as between cases. Proceeding along an inductive path, the authors link evaluation practice to theory. Do the criteria identified fit available models of quality in local governance? And, on the other hand, can an existing model grasp all the criteria at stake in such drastic reforms? The three case studies are: the country-wide amalgamation operation of 1976; the introduction of a new and more differentiated framework for inter-municipal cooperation; and the formulation of intra-municipal decentralisation.