Emergent Theories of Change

Theories of Change coverThe complex contexts for the work of those engaged in Education in Crisis-and-Conflict-Affected Environments (EiCC) call for innovative approaches to the design, management, and evaluation of projects seeking to increase equitable access to education.

ECCN has produced the study An Analysis of Theories of Change in USAID Solicitations for EiCC, which examines USAID EiCC project designs, using the lens of planned and emergent theories of change, consistent with USAID’s new Guidance (ADS 201, 2016) and the Collaborating, Learning and Adapting (CLA) framework.

The analysis is based on an examination of eighteen USAID solicitations related to EiCC issued between 2007 and 2014 to determine the degree to which they embodied elements of emergent social change theory in the assessment, planning, management and evaluation activities reflected in their Results Frameworks and solicitation requirements.

Given that these project designs were developed prior to the new ADS Guidance and the CLA framework, only a third of the projects explicitly referenced the organizational learning, feedback loops, and adaptability that are hallmarks of an emergent theory of change. Going forward, we expect that EiCC project designs and solicitations are more explicit about evidence, collaboration, and feedback loops, thereby providing a stronger evidence base for effective programs.