Hivos International


In recent years there has been an increased interest in applying Theory of Change (ToC) thinking as a way to operate more strategically and effectively in complex change processes. ToC refers to the understanding that an organisation, project, network or group of stakeholders has about how political, social, economic and/or cultural change happens. A ToC analysis in particular explores and specifies how and why this organisation, project or group of stakeholders thinks that their actions will contribute to such a change process.

Hivos Action Learning Community Reflection Notes

These three Reflection Notes are products of the Hivos Action Learning Community and are based on the collective experiences of its members in their work with organisations who are developing their theory of change. The Reflection Notes are available for download on the right of this page in Spanish and English.

ToC Notes 1: What is the purpose of a Theory of Change?

This one-off magazine celebrates the coming together of scientific excellence and development relevance.

The pursuit of these two ideals is what makes research highly exciting and deeply rewarding. It also brings fundamental and applied research closer together and advances knowledge sharing across disciplines, and between researchers, policy makers and practitioners.

What is a Theory of Change (ToC) and why is it important? This guide to understanding and developing a ToC shows how a ToC helps to configure the conditions needed to achieve desired change, using the experience of a given context. This is done partly by making assumptions explicit and by analysing them critically. It is also a monitoring tool that facilitates accountability. A good ToC allows development practitioners to handle complexity without over-simplification.