Policy and Research Papers
Review of the use of ‘Theory of Change’ in International Development
The report, produced by Isabel Vogel and commissioned by the DFID evaluation division,considers the current uses and definitions of Theory of Change (ToC). A methodology which maps the assumptions which inform planned interventions within all stages of an initiative, ToC is increasingly regarded as an essential tool in designing and appreciating the complex network of factors which influence project outcomes.The review considers the practical aspects of ToC implementation and to develop a more consistent approach which is gaining in reputation and use within the international development community.
Vogel acknowledges that lack of consensus exists around the specific definition of ToC. The review highlights the necessity for flexibility in developing a successful ToC. Through consideration of different approaches, outlining examples of ToC in practice within the appendix, Vogel identifies and draws together a short list of the core elements, generally agreed upon as essential requirements for any discussion centred on theory of change. The review further examines the most effective means of establishing a logical pathway to desired outcomes using the ToC model. Vogel highlights the need to establish ToC as an ongoing process developed alongside all phases of a programme from inception to impact evaluation and emphasises that assumptions should be made explicit within the organising framework of a project.
ToC, as the review makes clear, has the potential to provide an invaluable framework for discussion and critical thinking surrounding project implementation and evaluation. It allows for subjective analysis to be discussed and represented, through diagrams and visuals, which can in turn support more dynamic exchange between policy actors, grantees and donors.
For full report, http://www.dfid.gov.uk/r4d/pdf/outputs/mis_spc/DFID_ToC_Review_VogelV7.pdf