ToC Academy > Case Studies > Post: Theories of Change in international development: Communication, learning or accountability?
Theories of Change in international development: Communication, learning or accountability?
by Craig Valters
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The Theory of Change approach is becoming a pervasive part of development practice: as an artefact, as a management tool, and increasingly as a common discourse which implementers use to explain and explore their interventions. In this blog post, Craig Valters introduces the 6 key findings of his research and paper.

His research paper continues by providing an analysis of how Theories of Change are used in the day-to-day practice of an international development organisation, The Asia Foundation. They use the approach in three ways: to communicate, to learn and to be held accountable, which each exist in some tension with each other. Creating Theories of Change was often found to be a helpful process by programme staff, since it provided a greater freedom to explain and analyse programme interventions. However, the introduction of the approach also had some troubling effects, for example, by creating top-down accounts of change which spoke more to donor interests than to the ground realities of people affected by these interventions. Ultimately, this paper argues that while a Theory of Change approach can create space for critical reflection, this requires a much broader commitment to learning from individuals, organisations, and the development sector itself.

Check also this blog post by Duncan Green in responsive to this paper.