Negative Programme Theory

Most programme theories, logic models and theories of change show how an intervention is expected to contribute to positive impacts. Negative programme theory, a technique developed by Carol Weiss, shows how it might produce negative impacts.

A negative programme theory is constructed using the same processes used to construct a positive programme theory - talking to people about how the intervention works, observing the programme (if it is currently running), drawing on previous research and literature, and using analogies with similar programmes - but with possible negative impacts at the end of the logic model rather than the intended positive impacts.  

These negative impacts might be:

  • the reverse of the intended ones (for example, if the programme aims to produce improved educational achievement, a possible negative impact would be reduced educational achievement),
  • or different types of impacts (for example a programme that aims to improve household income might increase deforestation).


Funnell, S., & Rogers, P. (2011). Purposeful program theory: Effective use of theories of change and logic models. San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons. 

This page is a stub (a minimal version of a page). You can help expand it.  Click on Contribute Content or Contact Us to suggest additional resources, share your experience using the option, or volunteer to expand the description.

Updated: 24th September 2014 - 10:43pm
This Option is useful for:
A special thanks to this page's contributors
Director of BetterEvaluation/ Professor of Public Sector Evaluation, Australia and New Zealand School of Government.


There are currently no comments. Be the first to comment on this page!

Add new comment

Login Login and comment as BetterEvaluation member or simply fill out the fields below.