In her paper entitled, 'Using Survey Respondent Judgment of Impact to Evaluate Business Support Programs', TEN's VP Research Dr. Margaret Dalziel presents argument and evidence in support of using an approach known as 'judgment of attribution' in the evaluation of business support programs. This approach uses survey respondent judgment to distinguish between changes in firm attributes and performance that are a consequence of having participated in a business support program (e.g., incubator, accelerator, etc.), and those that are not.
Dr. Dalziel presents three tests of the reliability of the judgment of attribution approach: I) consistency with theoretical expectations, II) comparing the results of judgment of attribution with those of propensity score matching for a single program, and III) repeatability of results for programs evaluated on multiple occasions.
In keeping with the sentiments of Robert Watson-Watt, 'Give them the third best to go on with; the second best comes too late, the best never comes,' the approach described may be considered third best in theory. However, in many important situations, notably where programs are small and specialized and/or offer knowledge-based services, it is one of the few methods that are feasible, and may be one of the best available alternatives.
To learn more about the judgment of attribution approach to the evaluation of business support programs read the full paper here.