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Hivos policy brief on Theory of Change

Policy Brief: Hivos and Theory of Change 2014

The purpose of this paper is to explain Hivos’ understanding and use of the concept ‘Theory of Change’, which has become increasingly important in its strategic thinking. The paper is meant to inform external stakeholders, such as organisations Hivos collaborates with, funders and other allies in Hivos’ work for social change. Internally, for Hivos staff, it forms the basis for more practical guidelines that will soon follow.    

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Understanding Theory of Change in international development. A review of existing knowledge

Authors: Danielle Stein & Craig Valters
Publication date: July 2012

This paper reviews the concepts and common debates within the 'Theory of Change' literature, resulting from a detailed analysis of available donor, agency and expert guidance documents. A number of key issues are highlighted in the paper and these inform the collaborative research. 

3ie Working Paper. Theory-Based Impact Evaluation: Principles and Practice

Author:  Howard White
Organization: International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie)
Publication date: June 2009


Calls for rigorous impact evaluation has been accompanied by the quest for what works and why. Howard White identifies six principles for the successful application of the approach -- mapping out the causal chain (programme theory), understanding the context, anticipating heterogeneity, rigorous evaluation of impact using a credible counterfactual, rigorous factual analysis and using mixed methods.

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Theory of Change: A thinking and action approach to navigate in the complexity of social change processes

Author: Iñigo Retolaza Eguren
Organization(s): Hivos, Democartic Dialogue, UNDP
Publication date: April 2011


What is a Theory of Change (ToC) and why is it important? This guide to understanding and developing a ToC shows how a ToC helps to configure the conditions needed to achieve desired change, using the experience of a given context. This is done partly by making assumptions explicit and by analysing them critically. It is also a monitoring tool that facilitates accountability. A good ToC allows development practitioners to handle complexity without over-simplification.

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ILAC Brief 26: Making causal claims

Author: John Mayne
Publication date: 2012

An ongoing challenge in evaluation is the need to make credible causal claims linking observed results to the actions of interventions. This ILAC Brief argues the need for a different perspective on causality, where interventions are seen as contributory causes to certain results.

Making causal claims workshop 2013

Author: Mayne, J.
Publication date: 2013

This powerpoint presentation on causal contribution was part of the Workshop on Impact, Learning and Innovation, held at the Institute of Development Studies, March 2013. The presentation focuses on intervention causality and draws attention to the notion of interventions not being a single but a contributory cause to certain results. Theories of Change are offered as a model to see the intervention as a contributing cause.

The web of institutionalisation: Assessing Uptake of ToC Thinking in Hivos

This document introduces and elaborates on the notion of the 'web' of institutionalisation by Levy (1996) as part of the internal assessment by Hivos of the institutionalisation of Theory of Change thinking. It zooms in on the core elements, presented by Levy as the citizen's, policy, organizational and delivery sphere and lists guiding questions for each sphere, specifically formulated for Hivos' internal assessment.

Guidance Note 3: Theory of Change approach to climate change adaptation programming

Authors: Bours, D., McGinn, C. & Pringle, P. (for SEA Change CoP, UKCIP)
Publication date: 2014

This Guidance Note describes the Theory of Change approach and explains why it is a good fit for climate change adaptation programming. It highlights its differences with the more familiar logic model / logical framework (‘logframe’) approaches – and also shows how they can be used together.

Review of the use of ‘Theory of Change’ in international development

Author: Isabel Vogel (for DFID)
Publication Date: 2012 

'Theory of change' is an outcomes-based approach which applies critical thinking to the design, implementation and evaluation of initiatives and programmes intended to support change in their contexts.

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UNICEF Methodological briefs. Impact evaluation No. 2: Theory of Change

Author: Patricia Rogers
Date: September 2014

Recognizing the importance of impact evaluation to UNICEF's work, the Office of Research - Innocenti has collaborated with  RMIT University, the International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie), and BetterEvaluation to produce a series of methodological briefs and videos on the topic. The series covers the building blocks of impact evaluation, strategies for causal attribution, and different data collection and analysis methods. The focus of Impact Evaluation Brief No. 2 is on the Theory of Change (ToC).

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