|Title of host publication
|Encyclopedia of Sports Management
|Accepted/In press - 14 Apr 2022
The importance of evidence, and the quest to capture impact through the evaluation of sports management provision is becoming increasingly prominent. Sports management programmes that are in receipt of government and wider funding are tasked with the showing accountability for the resources they are afforded. Given that many of these programmes operate in open and highly complex systems, there exists a need for evaluation approaches that can make sense of causality within complex social and institutional systems. This chapter introduces realist evaluation as a potential evaluation approach that aims to capture how, why and for whom programmes work. The philosophical foundations of realist evaluation are introduced and the key stages of developing, testing and refining programme theory are explained. This chapter highlights the potential for application of realist evaluation and why it may be suitable whilst recognising the limitations and pitfalls that may surround its implementation.