A Metaevaluation of Lessons Learned Repositories: Evaluative Knowledge Management Practices in Project Management

Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Larry Buzas

Second Advisor

Dr. Michael Scriven

Third Advisor

Dr. Liliana Rodriguez


In essence, metaevaluation is evaluating an evaluation. Formally developed in 1969 by Dr. Michael Scriven, metaevaluation not only identifies strengths and weaknesses, but also by provides a second-level, systematic and comprehensive assessment. Metaevaluators seek to critically assess the strengths and weaknesses of an evaluation using testable theoretical propositions, valid and reliable measurement instruments, rigorous empirical methodologies for data collection and analysis, and tools and techniques. Because metaevaluation is inter-, intra- and trans-disciplinary, it has been and will continue to be used frequently.

This dissertation uses metaevaluation as a method for assessing how organizations evaluate the use of computerized lessons learned repositories within the context of evaluative knowledge management practices and within the framework of project management. A lessons learned is evaluative knowledge because it involves the determination of merit, worth and significance. Lessons learned repositories are physical or virtual locations where information is stored and includes the required computer hardware and software. Lessons learned systems are evaluation systems that include the lessons learned repositories, lessons learned information (considered to be knowledge or data) and the human and material-supporting infrastructure that are responsible for management and administration.

This dissertation explores: (1) Design: how information in the lessons learned repository is stored, i.e., logically organized directory structures using descriptive file naming conventions. (2) Usage: the use of information stored in the repository, i.e., in a formative context for program improvement and/or summative context for results. (3) Evaluative knowledge management: the policies, practices and procedures an organization uses to assess, build, capture, disseminate, examine, find, grow, hold, integrate, journal, keep, leverage, manage, name, organize, present, query, review, streamline, test, use, value, write, x-ray, yearn and zero-out information. Evaluative knowledge is the result of knowledge from an evaluation that allows for exploring evaluative considerations. (4) Project management: as a discipline (a branch of knowledge areas requiring learning); a responsibility (a role or function); a process (initiating, planning, executing, monitoring/controlling and closing); and a competency (a skill or ability).

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