SDC-IDS Collaboration on Poverty, Politics and Participatory Methodologies Briefing Note 7

State of the Art on Use of Theory of Change in the Development Sector

Published on 1 August 2018

The purpose of this briefing note is to add to SDC’s understanding of Theory of Change (ToC), drawing on the literature and practice to sketch out the current state of the art approach. This involves expanding on ToC beyond SDC’s current practice of using Impact Hypotheses (IH) to bridge it to operational practice and use ToC more explicitly in the project/programme cycle management (PCM) processes.

Sharing the state of the art on use of ToC in the development sector, this briefing note outlines what a ToC is, what it is used for and why it is needed in the development sector. It discusses ToC as both a process and a product, providing step by step guidance on how to facilitate a ToC process. The differences between a ToC and a logframe are highlighted. Some key criteria for recognising when you have a ‘good’ ToC are also included.

This brief is aimed at SDC staff, in particular Programme Officers, and staff of partner organisations involved in the management of SDC interventions.

This publication was produced as part of the Poverty, Politics, and Participatory Methodologies in SDC project.

Cite this publication

Goodier, S.; Apgar, M. and Clark, L. (2018) State of the Art on Use of Theory of Change in the Development Sector, SDC-IDS Briefing Note 7, Brighton: IDS


Sarah Goodier

Monitoring, Evaluation & Learning (MEL) Specialist

Marina Apgar

Research Fellow

Louise Clark

MEL Manager

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