Results Chain

The Results Chain Approach is arguably quite close to the logical framework or metrics-based approach as it follows a similar linear logic. This should be clear from the schematic representation below of a Theory of Change by Patricia Rogers in her report for UNICEF (Theory of Change: Methodological Briefs).

A results chain (or pipeline model) represents the theory of change in terms of a series of boxes, as below.

Sometimes multiple boxes are shown for each stage and the relevant boxes linked to show how particular activities lead to particular outputs, and how particular outputs lead to particular outcomes. (Patricia Rogers).

The theory of change is represented as stages in a results chain: overall objective; purpose (specific objective); and expected results and activities. For each of these stages, the logframe sets out the: intervention logic (a description of that change); objectively verifiable indicators of achievement; sources and means of verification; and assumptions (Ibid).

The same author offers an example of a ToC in which she places considerable emphasis on the assumptions and risks inherent in the model. They represent in many ways the black box of a development project, the things that are all too often simply ignored or taken for granted.

As Rogers rightly argues, however, the results chain approach often fails to explain how change happens or the barriers to change and may not even contain a theory of change. To hear a webinar by this author, click on Rogers. She explains how ToC does not just show what you are doing but also what others are doing and does not just show what you hope to achieve but also other impacts

  • According to Rogers, for a good ToCBegin with a good situation analysis. Identify the problem, its causes and consequences, possible synergies with other initiatives, or existing resources. Seek out expert opinion. Undertake a needs assessment. Ask stakeholders about their mental models. Rogers refers to a mental model about early wins, that is, asking project planners what they are trying to achieve: early successes that will encourage the community to buy in to the longer term project
  • Clarify which aspects of the problem the intervention will address, and make explicit the outcomes and impacts that it seeks to produce
  • Once agreement is reached about the desired outcome, develop a theory about how to get there: how this change will come about and how the intervention will trigger this change (e.g., drawing attention to gaps in service delivery by conducting surveys of availability and publishing the findings). Some Theories of Change focus on working with individuals, others on root causes, others on institutions. (A single programme can actually have more than one theory about how change happens).
  • A theory of change should ideally draw upon previous evaluations, expert opinion, feedback from relevant stakeholders on draft versions of the theory of change, relevant research (Rogers, 2014). It can tell you that X worked in particular contexts where we did Y.