theories of change

Where have we got to on Theories of Change? Passing fad or paradigm shift?

Duncan Green - April 16, 2015
My favourite ToC cartoon

Theories of change (ToCs) – will the idea stick around and shape future thinking on development, or slide back into the bubbling morass of aid jargon, forgotten and unlamented? Last week some leading ToCistas at ODI, LSE and The Asia Foundation and a bunch of other organisations spent a whole day taking stock, and the discussion highlighted strengths, weaknesses and some looming decisions. (Summary, agenda + …

Continue reading

What happens when 20 Middle East decision makers discuss Theories of Change?

Duncan Green - November 5, 2014

My first job after returning from holiday (disaster tourism in Northern Ireland – don’t ask) was to speak on Theories of Change to a really interesting group – a ‘building a rule of law leadership network in the Middle East’, funded by the UK Foreign Office. The John Smith Trust has about 20 lawyers, civil servants, policemen, UN personnel and business people for a 3 …

Continue reading

9 Ways to get northern constituencies involved in changing the world: useful typology

Duncan Green - October 10, 2014

Like everyone else, if Buzzfeed is any guide, I love a good list. I’m also increasingly obsessed with theories of change. So imagine my joy when I read Exfamer May Miller-Dawkins’ paper ‘9 Ways to Change the World’, which offers not one, but two lists. The paper is an attempt to come up with a typology of the ways organizations try to engage northern constituencies on …

Continue reading

The best evidence yet on how Theories of Change are being used in aid and development work

Duncan Green - August 28, 2014

If you are interested in Theories of Change (ToCs), you have to read Craig Valters’ new paper ‘Theories of Change in International Development: Communication, Learning or Accountability’ or at least, his accompanying blog. The paper draws on the fascinating collaboration between the LSE and The Asia Foundation, in which TAF gave LSE researchers access to its country programmes and asked them to study their use …

Continue reading

Four ways in which a good theory of change can help your social accountability work

Duncan Green - July 29, 2014

This piece went up last week on the World Bank’s Global Partnership for Social Accountability blog. Sorry, I mean ‘knowledge platform’. Theories of change (ToCs) are a bit of a development fuzzword at the moment, used in lots of different and sometimes baffling ways. But Oxfam finds ToCs extremely useful, provided they address issues of power and politics, avoid linear ‘logframe on steroids’ or exclusively …

Continue reading

So what should Twaweza do differently? How accountability work is evolving

admin - October 9, 2013

Yesterday I sketched out the theory of change and initial findings on the first four years of work by an extraordinary East African NGO, Twaweza. Today I’ll move on to what some NGO people (but thankfully no-one in Dar es Salaam last week) insist on calling ‘the learnings’ about the flaws and gaps in its original theory of change (described in yesterday’s post). First, there’s …

Continue reading

What is a theory of change and how do we use it?

admin - August 13, 2013
change

I’m planning to write a paper on this, but thought I’d kick off with a blog and pick your brains for references, suggestions etc. Everyone these days (funders, bosses etc) seems to be demanding a Theory of Change (ToC), although when challenged, many have only the haziest notion of what they mean by it. It’s a great opportunity, but also a risk, if ToCs become …

Continue reading

Why don’t people in power do the right thing – supply, demand or collective action problem? And what do we do about it?

admin - January 18, 2013

My last few days have been dominated by conversations around ‘convening and brokering’, including an exchange between assorted ODI wonks and a bunch of NGOs on the findings of the Africa Power and Politics Programme, and a ‘webinar’ (ugh), with our Latin American staff on the nature of ‘leverage’ (a closely associated development fuzzword). Yesterday I set out the best example of this approach that I’ve …

Continue reading

‘Convening and Brokering’ in practice: sorting out Tajikistan’s water problem

admin - January 17, 2013

In the corridors of Oxfam and beyond, ‘convening and brokering’ has become a new development fuzzword. I talked about it in my recent review of the Africa Power and Politics Programme, and APPP promptly got back to me and suggested a discussion on how convening and brokering is the same/different to the APPP’s proposals that aid agencies should abandon misguided attempts to impose ‘best practice’ solutions …

Continue reading

What does Tolstoy's War and Peace teach us about Causation, Complexity and Theories of Change?

admin - October 5, 2012

Just finished reading Tolstoy’s War and Peace, an amazing work, which quite possibly justifies the blurb’s ‘greatest novel in any language’ claim (who on earth decides these things and how?). I read it 30 years ago, but to be honest, I’m not sure I understood much of it then. Tolstoy manages to combine the enthralling human saga of Russia’s experience of invasion by France under …

Continue reading