Theory of Change cntd.

This page provides links to a number of older – but still useful – resources on Theories of Change … and you can click back here to the main LfS Theories of Change page.

Using Theory of Change in the development, implementation and evaluation of complex health interventions
In this 2015 guide, Mary De Silva and Lucy Lee highlight that ToC can support the development of interventions, bringing together key stakeholders within the planning phase to scrutinise and address proposed approaches to achieving impact. It can also provide a rich process and impact framework to guide implementation and evaluation, addressing barriers to implementation, and incorporating the rationale behind approaches taken and contextual influences. In this guide the authors provide a practical overview of the process of developing a Theory of Change, focussing on using a stakeholder-driven, workshop approach to achieve this.

Theories of Change in International Development: Communication, Learning, or Accountability?
2014 paper [PDF] by Craig Valters
Argues that while a Theory of Change approach can create space for critical reflection, this requires a much broader commitment to learning from individuals, organisations, and the development sector itself. Six key lessons are developed to support useful ToC practice.

Learning about Theories of Change for the Monitoring and Evaluation of Research Uptake
2013 practice paper brief by Chris Barnett and Robbie Gregorowski
This paper captures lessons from recent experiences on using ‘theories of change’ amongst organisations involved in the research–policy interface. The literature in this area reminds us that given the complexity inherent in many initiatives in which ToC are used – rather than overcomplicating a static depiction of change at the start (to be evaluated at the end), incentives need to be in place to regularly collect evidence around the theory, test it periodically, and then reflect and reconsider its relevance and assumptions.

Theory of Change Technical Papers – ActKnowledge
2013 report by Dana Taplin and colleagues
ActKnowledge uses TOC as a foundation for organizational capacity building, clarifying goals, evaluation and organization change.This report provides some short papers to support development of Theories of Change based on practice in the field. The related page –  ActKnowledge guides to Theory of Change (TOC) methodology – provides downloads of a range of their ToC publications – providing guides and technical papers.

ESPA guide to working with Theory of Change for research projects
Isabel Vogel (2012) ESPA guide report
Explains what the theory of change approach is about, its benefits and uses. It explains the key conceptual and practical points to consider for developing, working with and indeed challenging and testing the theory of change throughout the lifetime of a project. It also outlines how to develop a theory of change that is of high-quality but is tailored to the context and needs of research projects. The guide is divided into three sections. Sections A and B offer a tailored approach for ESPA research teams. Sections C and D present practical tips and resources for those wishing to learn more about theory of change.

Understanding ‘Theory of Change’ in international development: A review of existing knowledge
This 2012 report by Danielle Stein and Craig Valters
provides a review of the many concepts and common debates within ‘Theory of Change’ (ToC) material. The authors acknowledge that it is commonly understood as an articulation of how and why a given intervention will lead to specific change. They identify four main purposes of ToC – strategic planning, description, monitoring and evaluation and learning – although these inevitably overlap. They also identify the lack of clarity surrounding the use of the terms ‘assumption’ and ‘evidence’. Finally, they draw out information on what authors feel makes for ToC ‘best practice’ in terms of both content and process, alongside an exploration of the remaining gaps where more clarity is needed.

Theory of Change review
This 2011 report by Cathy James aims to draw together Comic Relief staff and partners’ experiences in using theory of change; to identify others in development that are using theory of change and analyse their different approaches and experience; and to capture learning from everyone to promote debate, and to help inform what agencies using or advocating for the use of theory of change do next.

Review of the use of ‘Theory of Change’ in international development
[Isabel Vogel (2012) DFID review report] This report focuses on the practical aspects of working with theory of change in programmes. The review report is structured around nine topics that were identified through scoping interviews with key DFID staff and partners. To assist the reader, for each topic, key points are highlighted at the start of each section, the findings illustrated with examples. Practical suggestions are highlighted. Box examples are also provided to illustrate people’s experience, from donors to implementing agencies and projects. The appendices contain more examples of documented theories of change and also guidelines and tools to support people working with theory of change.

Using Programme Theory to Evaluate Complicated and Complex Aspects of Interventions
[Patricia Rogers (2008) journal paper] This paper proposes ways to use programme theory for evaluating aspects of programmes that are complicated or complex. It argues that there are useful distinctions to be drawn between aspects that are complicated and those that are complex, and provides examples of programme theory evaluations that have usefully represented and address both of these. While complexity has been defined in varied ways in previous discussions of evaluation theory and practice, this article draws on Glouberman and Zimmerman’s conceptualization of the differences between what is complicated (multiple components) and what is complex (emergent). Readers may also want to visit the LfS page Is the system complex or complicated? for more resources in this area.

The Community Builder’s Approach to Theory of Change; A Practical Guide to Theory Development
This guide by Andrea A. Anderson is for planners and evaluators who are going to facilitate a process for creating a theory of change with community-based programs and community change initiatives. The guide is in two sections. Section One answers the question ‘What is a theory of change?’. It provides all the information needed to facilitate a theory of change process with a community group. Section Two is a resource toolbox for the theory of change facilitator.

Theory of Change: A Practical Tool For Action, Results and Learning
This manual was prepared by Organizational Research Services (ORS) in Seattle Washington and written by Jane Reisman, Anne Gienapp and colleagues. It is designed as a practical guide to help develop a therory of change with a number of worksheets.

Theory of Change Tool Manual
This manual has been developed by the International Network on Strategic Philanthropy(INSP). The Tool allows users to create a framework or model of change, also known as a “theory of change” or “logic model” which maps out how your program or initiative plans on getting from present conditions to your vision of success. It provides a guide – with worksheets – for planning, implementing, and evaluating your initiative or effort. Once completed, it provides a picture of how your program or initiative will bring about change in order to accomplish an identified goal. This Tool was specifically designed for use by organizations such as Foundations, Trustees, NGOs, and individuals such as donors, philanthropists or consultants to facilitate the development of a Theory of Change, the first step in strategic philanthropy. As the authors point out, as assets continue to shrink, the strategic, conscientious, and thoughtful use of resources is vital. Research, planning, collaboration, monitoring, and evaluation are key components of the work, particularly as all parties are seeking the maximum benefit from social investing.

Mapping Change Using a Theory of Change to Guide Planning and Evaluation
This guide was written by Anne Mackinnon and Natasha Amott and is part of the GrantCraft series. It begins by showing how, by mapping a process of change from beginning to end, a theory of change establishes a blueprint for the work ahead and anticipates its likely effects. A theory of change also reveals what should be evaluated, when, and how. The guide then looks at why would a grant maker develop and use a theory of change, and goes on to answer a number of common questions that are asked about the process.

Theory of change: monitoring and evaluation
In this podcast Andrew Clappison explains how your theory of change can be adapted into an effective means of monitoring and evaluating your success. This podcast is of real value to those people who have developed a theory of change, but are unclear on how to monitor and evaluate their progress against it.

Making Connections: Using a theory of change to develop planning and evaluation
This 2011 guide was written by Jean Ellis, Diana Parkinson and Avan Wadia for Charities Evaluation Services’ (CES) National Performance Programme. It aims to provide an introduction to the ‘theory of change’ approach to planning, monitoring and evaluation. It looks to help the reader: i) understand what the theory of change is, ii) see how it fits with other models of planning and evaluation, iii) decide whether it is the right model for your organisation, and iv) develop your own theory of change.


Related site information: An accompanying page presents more recent links on Theories of Change.You may also be interested in links to resources on logic or outcomes modelling, or the related topic of indicator development. Another related page can be found in the knowledge management section with links on how best to develop conceptual models.