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The history of the development of Voluntary Organizations for Professional Evaluation (VOPEs) demonstrates that the profession of evaluation follows the path mapped by Flexner. VOPEs are established by evaluation practitioners, that is, people who make their living by doing or commissioning evaluations, who self-organize
to discuss and share professional experiences and challenges and to jointly advance the profession and develop professional standards. VOPE events, e.g. conferences, workshops and seminars, and publications provide a platform for professional exchange. This exchange advances the professional capacity of more experienced evaluators and the learning of those who are new to the profession. Initially VOPEs contribute to the development of national evaluation capacities by building capacities of individual evaluators. At this stage VOPEs may also indirectly influence national and organizational evaluation policies if VOPE members get involved in the development of these policies as individuals. Eventually VOPEs may get more directly involved in the development of national and subnational evaluation policies and thus start to contribute not only to the benefits of VOPE members but to the benefits of the society at large as well. Case studies presented in this book provide vivid illustrations of how these processes manifest themselves in different national contexts. Development of national VOPEs started in the late 1970s and early 1980s – with the establishment of the Evaluation Research Society in the USA in 1978 1 and the Canadian Evaluation Society in 1981. In the early 2000s the evaluation professionals felt the need for global integration and global platforms for professional exchange. This lead to the establishment of the International Development Evaluation Association (IDEAS), an individual membership organization, in 2002, and the International Organization for Cooperation in Evaluation (IOCE), a global association of regional and national VOPEs, in 2003.