Lessons in Theory of Change: Monitoring, Learning and Evaluating Knowledge to Action

Abstract

In 2010 the research theme on Knowledge to Action (K2A) at CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) developed a plan of work, using a log frame structure. Our objective was to explore and jointly apply approaches and methods that enhance K2A linkages with a wide range of partners at local, regional and global levels. Since then, the K2A theme has supported a variety of projects with the potential to catalyse action from research-generated knowledge. These projects were cutting edge; high risk but with potential for real impact should they succeed.

The success rate of individual projects was substantial.1 What we found as a research theme, however, was that mechanisms were not in place to scaleout from these initial, project-based successes. We attributed this to the absence of a clear pathway to impact. Impact pathways were inherent in our log frame approach. However, explicit “result chains” connecting research products to development outcomes and monitoring and evaluation (M&E) strategies were missing. In 2013, we converted our log frame into an impact pathway with accompanying theory of change (TOC). This allowed us to shift from a project orientation to a focus on behavioral outcomes.

This learning brief profiles the major lessons from the conversion of the log frame plan to an impact pathway and theory of change (TOC).

Citation

Jost, C.C.; Kristjanson, P.; Vervoort, J.; Alvarez, S.; Ferdous, N.; Förch, W. Lessons in Theory of Change: Monitoring, Learning and Evaluating Knowledge to Action. CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), Copenhagen, Denmark (2014) 6 pp.

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