Contribution analysis for adaptive management

This briefing note shares guidance on using contribution analysis for adaptative management by examining how the approach enables programmes to work with theories of change in a practical, reflexive way and how its findings can inform programme adaptation.


Marina Apgar, Kevin Hernandez and Giel Ton.

Key features

Contribution analysis is a theory-based approach that helps users arrive at conclusions regarding programmes' contribution to particular outcomes. This note examines how and to what extent contribution analysis can enable adaptive management (CA4AM). Through interviews with stakeholders, it evaluates four programmes that adopted elements of CA4AM in their practices. The note concludes by arguing that the combination of contribution analysis and adaptive management can help facilitate collecting, reflecting and using high-quality data and analysis in adaptive decision-making.

Key messages

  • "CA4AM can enable programmes to work with theories of change in a practical, reflexive way.
  • It is particularly useful for programmes operating in conditions of complexity, when it is difficult to discern attribution and when systems-level change is the goal.
  • A range of enabling factors help CA4AM to be used most effectively, including contractual flexibility; embedded monitoring, evaluation and learning (MEL); and supportive leadership." (Apgar et al., 2020)


Apgar, M., Hernandez, K. & Ton, G. (2020). Contribution analysis for adaptive management. ODI. Retrieved from:

'Contribution analysis for adaptive management' is referenced in: