The present article addresses the production and global dissemination of ‘policy relevant knowledge’. It not only unpacks the methodological assumptions of a particular type of knowledge production–known as impact evaluations–but also analyses the issue of knowledge mobilisation within the political economy of the global education policy field. Having a critical understanding of impact evaluations is crucial because they are widely regarded as the most valid informational basis from which to make policy decisions. The importance of grasping the methodological limitations and political-economic dynamics that afflict knowledge production and mobilisation is demonstrated through the case of Colombia’s well-known charter school programme. By employing a strategy that has been labelled bibliographic ethnography, this article not only takes a critical look at the knowledge base that has been produced on this programme but also maps the way that evaluations of this charter school programme, despite their limitations, have been cited and invoked in academic and organisational publications to project this programme internationally. The article concludes by offering a theoretically-informed discussion of how we should understand the trajectory of impact evaluations (and other knowledge products) as they cross multiple personal, organisational, political, and discursive contexts.
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