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Making Contribution Claims IPDET 2011 Ottawa John Mayne, Ph D Advisor on Public Sector Performance Adjunct Professor, University of Victoria

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Presentation on theme: "Making Contribution Claims IPDET 2011 Ottawa John Mayne, Ph D Advisor on Public Sector Performance Adjunct Professor, University of Victoria"— Presentation transcript:

1 Making Contribution Claims IPDET 2011 Ottawa John Mayne, Ph D Advisor on Public Sector Performance Adjunct Professor, University of Victoria

2 John Mayne Advisor on Public Sector Performance 2 The context An intervention is expected to contribute to certain desired results The desired results have been observed to occur No single factor likely ‘caused’ the results; there are several players involved Alternative approaches (such as RCTs, quasi- experiments) not available or possible But there is a need to say something useful about the contribution the intervention is making: Are you making a difference?

3 John Mayne Advisor on Public Sector Performance Theory-based Evaluations Growing acceptance of the need for theory-based approaches To better design interventions To understand what works where and when Numerous approaches Realist evaluation Theory of change approaches 3

4 John Mayne Advisor on Public Sector Performance 4 outputs (goods and services produced by the program) activities (how the program carries out its work) intermediate outcomes (the benefits and changes resulting from the outputs) end outcomes (impacts) (the final or long-term consequences) Examples negotiating, consulting, inspecting, drafting legislation Examples checks delivered, advice given, people processed, information provided, reports produced Examples satisfied users, jobs found, equitable treatment, illegal entries stopped, better decisions made Examples environment improved, stronger economy, safer streets, energy saved Immediate outcomes (the first level effects of the outputs) Examples actions taken by the recipients, or behaviour changes Results A results chain External Factors

5 John Mayne Advisor on Public Sector Performance 5 outputs (goods and services produced by the program) activities (how the program carries out its work) intermediate outcomes (the benefits and changes resulting from the outputs) end outcomes (the final or long-term consequences) Examples negotiating, consulting, inspecting, drafting legislation Examples checks delivered, advice given, people processed, information provided, reports produced Examples satisfied users, jobs found, equitable treatment, illegal entries stopped, better decisions made Examples environment improved, stronger economy, safer streets, energy saved Immediate outcomes (the first level effects of the outputs) Examples actions taken by the recipients, or behaviour changes Results Why will these immediate outcomes come about? Results chain links External Factors

6 John Mayne Advisor on Public Sector Performance 6 Theories of change A results chain with embedded assumptions, risks and other explanatory factors identified An explanation of what has to happen for the results chain to work Reduction in smoking Anti-smoking campaign Assumptions: target is reached, message is heard, message is convincing, no other major influences at work Risks: target not reached, poor message, peer pressure to smoke very strong Other Explanatory Factors: reduction due to trend pressure or price increases

7 John Mayne Advisor on Public Sector Performance 7 A Generic Theory of Change Activities and Outputs Reach & Reaction Unintended effects Changes in knowledge, attitudes skills, opportunities and incentives Unintended effects Behaviour changes Unintended effects End Results Theory of Change Unintended effects Assumptions: How are behavioural changes in the target population expected to influence the desired end result? What has to happen? What factors influence these processes? Risks: Risks to the link not occurring. Other Explanatory Factors: Socio- economic factors Assumptions: How are changes in knowledge, attitudes, skills, opportunities and/or incentives expected to change behaviour? What has to happen? What factors influence these processes? Risks: Risks to the link not occurring. Other Explanatory Factors: Peer or trend pressure; other interventions Assumptions: How does the intervention expect to enhance knowledge, attitudes skills, opportunities and/or incentives? What has to happen? What factors influence these processes? Risks: Risks to the link not occurring. Other Explanatory Factors: Other interventions; self-learning Assumptions: How and to what extent does the intervention output expect to reach people? What has to happen? What contextual factors influence these processes? Risks: Risks to the link not occurring. Assumptions: How do external factors influence the realization of the intervention’s ToC? Risks: Risks to the links in the ToC not occurring as expected. Other Explanatory Factors: Socio-economic factors; other interventions External Influences

8 John Mayne Advisor on Public Sector Performance Addressing causality “The only way to deal with causality is to use a counterfactual” NOT TRUE Philosophy of science discusses several alternative perspectives on causality Successionist (Hume & Mill’s Methods of Agreement and Differences) Generative (mechanistic, or process causality) 8

9 John Mayne Advisor on Public Sector Performance Addressing Causality The gold standard debate (RCTs et al) Intense debate underway, especially in development impact evaluation In concept, RCTs may be great. In practice, RCTs have problems and often limited applicability Then what do we do? 9

10 John Mayne Advisor on Public Sector Performance Causal Questions 1.Has the intervention caused the result? o What would have happened without the intervention? 2.Has the intervention made a difference? o What contribution has the intervention made? 3.Why has the result occurred? o What role did the intervention play? 10

11 John Mayne Advisor on Public Sector Performance Mechanistic Causation Process or generative causality Tracing the links in the theory between events The alternative to successionist (counterfactual) approaches—variation causality Everyday causality: auto mechanic, air crashes, forensic work, doctors

12 John Mayne Advisor on Public Sector Performance 12 Contribution analysis: the theory There is a theory behind the intervention with expected results The activities of the intervention were implemented as planned The intervention theory is supported by evidence; the sequence of results is being realized, assumptions are holding Other influencing factors have been assessed and accounted for

13 John Mayne Advisor on Public Sector Performance 13 The Contribution Claim Therefore, It is reasonable to conclude that the intervention is making a difference—it is contributing to (influencing) the desired results This is taking a mechanistic approach to causality: understanding & confirming the causal mechanisms at work in an intervention

14 John Mayne Advisor on Public Sector Performance 14 Contribution analysis: the practice 1.Set out the attribution problem 2.Critically develop the expected theory of change 3.Gather the existing evidence 4.Assess the contribution story 5.Seek out additional evidence 6.Revise & strengthen the contribution story

15 John Mayne Advisor on Public Sector Performance Developments in CA EES Prague Conference CA Forum website group.org/-Forum-.htmlhttp://www.inteval- group.org/-Forum-.html Upcoming Evaluation journal Special issue on CA DfiD work on alternative methods 15

16 John Mayne Advisor on Public Sector Performance Main Messages Results chains, et al should not be seen as theories of change Counterfactuals are not necessary (nor sufficient) for ‘proving’ causality Key impact evaluation questions should be: Why has the result occurred? What has been the intervention’s contribution? Contribution analysis (and related approaches) produce contribution claims 16

17 John Mayne Advisor on Public Sector Performance Some References Mayne, J. (2011). Addressing Cause and Effect in Simple and Complex Settings through Contribution Analysis. In Evaluating the Complex, R. Schwartz, K. Forss, and M. Marra (Eds.), Transaction Publishers. Mayne, J. (2008). Contribution Analysis: An Approach to Exploring Cause and Effect, ILAC Brief. Available at ilac.org/files/publications/briefs/ILAC_Brief16_Contributio n_Analysis.pdf Mayne, J. (2001). Addressing Attribution through Contribution Analysis: Using Performance Measures Sensibly. Canadian Journal of Program Evaluation, 16(1), See also bvg.gc.ca/domino/other.nsf/html/99dp1_e.html bvg.gc.ca/domino/other.nsf/html/99dp1_e.html Funnell, S. and P. Roggers (2011). Purposeful Program Theory. Jossey-Bass. 17


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