Policy evaluations in the UK have increasingly espoused a ‘Theories of Change’ (ToC) approach, drawing on North American experiences. Features of ToC include the expectation that all affected stakeholders will be involved in developing, agreeing, monitoring and evaluating a relevant theory for the proposed intervention, and the assumption that widespread stakeholder involvement will extend ownership of the intervention to achieve ‘total ownership’ and also improve attribution. Drawing on the experiences of three English evaluations (Health Action Zones, New Deal for Communities and Local Strategic Partnerships), this article examines the possibilities and limitations associated with the achievement of ‘total ownership’. Analysis reveals some important differences between the English and North American contexts and leads to the development of alternative models of ownership including ‘elite’,‘evaluator’,‘principal’ or ‘community’ ownership. The article concludes that if these models are more realistic than ‘total ownership’ in the English policy environment then this has implications for the appropriate application of ToC.