Theory-Based Impact Evaluation: Principles and Practice, by Howard White

theory-based approach to impact evaluation maps out the causal chain from inputs to outcomes and impact, and tests the underlying assumptions. Despite wide agreement that this approach will address the why question, it has not often been effectively used. Most studies make speculations as to the reasons for impact, or differences in impact, rather than using solid empirical analysis.

This paper outlines six principles for successful theory-based impact evaluation: (1) map out the causal chain (programme theory); (2) understand context; (3) anticipate heterogeneity; (4) rigorously evaluate impact using a credible counterfactual; (5) use rigorous factual analysis; and (6) use mixed methods.

Source: GSDRC.

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One thought on “Theory-Based Impact Evaluation: Principles and Practice, by Howard White

  1. This is all fine. IE can identify what worked and why (and what did not work and why) -in some cases, and within a margin of error. But it cannot tell you what WILL work in the future. So it is a good way of looking back at what as done. But it should not be used to say what SHOULD be done. At least not by claiming it is based on evidence

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