Purposeful Program Theory
With the subtitle Effective Use of Theories of Change and Logic Models. This is one of the most important books if you want to learn how to develop a theory of change focused on effect. The book describes the connection between politics, program and project. It is a guide in monitoring and evaluation. The book provides good and thorough explanations of why and how you develop and use the program theory.
The book is rich in examples and alternative methods. Advantages and disadvantages of the various methods are made visible and described. It is an indispensable help for students and professionals who work with program development, education, social work and counseling.
The principles behind a theory of change
Purposeful Program Theory describes among other things the principles of Theory of Change, which is a specific type of methodology for planning, participation and evaluation that is used in the philanthropy, not-for-profit and government sectors to promote social change. Theory of Change defines long-term goals and then maps backward to identify necessary preconditions.
A logical chronological flow of desired impacts
Theory of Change explains the process of change by outlining causal linkages in an initiative, i.e., its shorter-term, intermediate, and longer-term outcomes. The identified changes are mapped – as the “outcomes pathway” – showing each outcome in logical relationship to all the others, as well as chronological flow. The links between outcomes are explained by “rationales” or statements of why one outcome is thought to be a prerequisite for another.
A critical theory that shows the connection between causes and impacts
The innovation of Theory of Change lies in making the distinction between desired and actual outcomes and in requiring stakeholders to model their desired outcomes before they decide on forms of intervention to achieve those outcomes. A common error in describing Theory of Change is the belief that it is simply a methodology for planning and evaluation. Theory of Change is instead a form of critical theory that ensures a transparent distribution of power dynamics. Further, the process is necessarily inclusive of many perspectives and participants in achieving solutions.
The method ensures data for evaluation
Having worked out a change model, practitioners can make more informed decisions about strategy and tactics. As monitoring and evaluation data become available, stakeholders can periodically refine the Theory of Change as the evidence indicates. A Theory of Change can be developed retrospectively by reading program documents, talking to stakeholders, and analyzing data. This is often done during evaluations reflecting what has worked or not in order to understand the past and plan for the future.
The book gives you good instructions on how to develop and use the program theory.
Authors: Sue C. Funnell & Patricia J. Rogers
Publisher: John Wiley and Sons Ltd. Format: Paperback, 2011. Pages: 576. ISBN13:9780470478578