Difference Between Theory of Action and Theory of Change

Theory of Action

Definition: It is a collection of implicit assumptions about how an organization tin progress from its present status to its intended futurity state.

A theory of action is a collection of connected ideas that form a logical concatenation of reasoning that explains how change leads to enhanced practices.

According to Haertel (1999, p. 663) it connects the dots, stating in apparently language which traits are expected to result in the desired outcome.

Importance of theory of activeness

It is critical to establish a theory of action early in the design process since information technology has an impact on the theory of change and its implementation. A program theory cannot be without a theory of action, and its justification cannot be evaluated unless the program logic defines how the change logic will be executed. The delivery model of a program generates outputs, outcomes, and impacts that should be documented as office of the program’s monitoring and evaluation. It is consequently disquisitional to clarify a program’s theory of action from an evaluation standpoint.

Theory of Change

Weiss (1995) defines a theory of alter quite only and elegantly equally a theory of how and why an initiative works. This definition implies that the first phase in performing any evaluation is to identify the intended results, the activities that will be used to reach those objectives, and the contextual elements that may affect how those activities are implemented and their ability to achieve desired outcomes.

A theory of modify therefore describes how the activities of an intervention (such as a project, programme, or policy) contribute to a chain of events leading to the desired or observed outcomes. Often created during the planning stage, a theory of change can also be benign for monitoring and evaluation.

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Structure of a Good Theory of Change

Connell (1996) outlined three characteristics of an effective theory of change stakeholders should confirm before embarking on an evaluation and, moreover, should revisit during the initiative’s execution and evaluation.

A theory of change that is robust can bear witness:

  • if at that place are activities that you lot engage in that do not contribute to your goal accomplishment
  • the adequacy of your activities in light of your objectives
  • what deportment and results y’all need to do on your own and which y’all cannot
  • ways to appraise your effectiveness

Usefulness of theory of change

A good theory of alter can aid in the evolution of more than effective cardinal evaluation questions, the identification of key indicators for monitoring, the identification of information gaps, the prioritization of boosted data collection, and the establishment of a construction for information analysis and reporting.

Differences between Theory of Change and Theory of Activity

A contrast between a Theory of Modify and a Theory of Activity is unnecessary from a theoretical viewpoint. The only distinction is in the level of conceptualization.

The theory of change is concerned with the nuances of change and the mechanisms by which changed occurs, regardless of the nature of the activity. Broadly said, explains why change occurs through a sequence of ‘suppose, so’ assertions.

The theory of action elucidates the process through which strategies are designed to trigger the theory of alter. This conceptual model of the theory of change demonstrates what the plan accomplishes, how information technology initiates the organisational modify, and how essential premises are identified.

The final examination of the theory of action may well confirm or deny the present program’s performance. It volition also uncover shortfalls that obstruct plan functionality. This particular initiative makes employ of ‘If, and so’ expressions.

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A theory of modify denotes those mechanisms whereby certain social reform is set to take place.

A theory of activity identifies a detail route inside a theory of change, or an establishment’s part in accomplishing that transformation, centred on an evaluation of how the organisation may provide the greatest benefit to the change initiative.

A Theory of Activity is basically an opportunity to address the questions “How” and “Is this feasible?” A theory of modify is a notion that might or might not prove to be correct. One of the chief factors information technology may turn out to be erroneous is when it fails to accurately forecast the manner in which a program might deliver change. A theory of change will consider diverse hypotheses and studies but may exist hundred-to-one to consider a delivery strategy.

Theory of Action vs. Theory of Change: Comparison Chart


At the showtime of the program’s design phase, it must affirm the plan’due south present state, the ideal time to come state, and the consistent route required to achieve the desirable outcome. A theory of change is one style to accomplish this, but it risks becoming compromised when it is not complemented by a theory of activity, which addresses critical underlying execution issues in program design phase.

Both theory of alter and theory of action processes have revolutionized how organizations mensurate their effectiveness. It gives a practical and realistic framework for organizations to deport out the change they seek, assists in identifying potential issues, and provides a articulate road map for all employees, funders, and investors.


What is a theory of change Example?

The theory of change is an arroyo that is based on a diagram that depicts a diversity of steps that volition result in sure changes.

Instance of a theory of change framework

What is the difference betwixt the theory of change and the logical framework?

The theory of change and theory of action help donors and project teams grasp what they are seeking to practice, if it is achievable, and how they intend to accomplish it.

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The theory of action outlines the method through which a project or program is conceived and implemented. Which combination of (a) activities (e.g. grooming, technical assistance), (b) delivery modes (eastward.1000. grant or budget support), and (c) partners (e.g. faith-based organizations, non-governmental organizations) will you utilise to endeavour to accomplish your outputs or planned changes?

While a alter theory describes the processes by which individuals, groups, or societies change. It is an assumption (or collection of assumptions) almost how change will occur in a land regardless of a donor’due south or project’s actions or inactions.

What is a Theory of Action plan?

A theory of action is a theory regarding the result of implementing a set of strategies. Developing a theory of action necessitates exercising critical judgment in determining which strategic acts will result in the desired outcomes. Information technology is the process of linking our intentions with our intended results.

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