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Defra Theory of Change Toolkit - SD1421

Defra commissioned the development of a bespoke Theory of Change (ToC) tool to support Defra teams in the design and delivery of evaluation of complex policies. The overarching aim of the tool was specified as being to enable complex Defra policies, programmes and strategies to have robust frameworks through which to understand and evidence impact and progress, and to collect evidence against organisational outcomes, as part of the delivery of the Public Value Framework approach.

A practical ToC tool, with integrated supporting step-by-step guidance and a separate template pack to enable Defra teams to generate robust and complexity sensitive Theories of Change for evaluation of programmes and strategies across Defra’s complex policy remit was developed through this project.
Objective 1: Scope Defra’s Theory of Change requirements and review literature and resources to understand existing approaches to Theories of Change and complexity.

To what extent are there existing viable models for developing Theories of Change that handle complexity?
To what extent do existing approaches and resources meet Defra’s needs?
What additional needs does Defra have for developing Theories of Change, and how should these be met?

Objective 2: Co-develop understanding of Theories of Change and local needs and practical challenges with a selection of Defra’s policy and programme teams.

What are the local policy needs and strategic requirements for Theories of Change?
What are the practical challenges faced by Defra policy teams in developing Theories of Change and the development of evaluation and metrics?
How can a ToC tool capture complex system dynamics and enable teams to monitor change over time?

Objective 3: Produce a practical Defra ToC tool for use by policy teams and analytical leads across the department in developing robust, complexity-aware Theories of Change for evaluation and wider policy planning.

What evidence is there that this tool will effectively support the robust evaluation of complex policies and programmes across Defra?
How is this tool best implemented to ensure policy and analytical buy-in?
What guidance and support are required for teams to practically use and implement the final product?
Project Documents
• EVID4 - Final project report : 4. Defra ToC Tool Report   (1592k)
• ANX - Annex : 3. Defra ToC Tool Annexes   (223k)
• SUM - Summary Report : 1. Defra ToC Tool Summary   (965k)
• TRP - Technical Report : 2. Defra ToC Tool FULL   (12877k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2021

To: 2021

Cost: £39,862
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Social Research