Lessons in theory of change: experiences from CCAFS

This paper, written by Christine C. Jost, Patti Kristjanson, Sophie Alvarez, Tonya Schuetz, Wiebke Foerch, Laura Cramer and Philip Thornton for the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), outlines the lessons that were learned from developing a Theory of Change for the Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security research program (CCAFS) of CGIAR. 


"Key messages

  • Impact pathways are living documents that require a flexible design process that includes learning and harmonisation between different parts of a collaborative research program.
  • Capacity to develop, monitor and communicate theories of change, impact pathways and monitoring and evaluation needs to be mainstreamed throughout a collaborative research program and centres implementing its research.
  • A well-articulated collaborative research program impact pathway helps centre teams understand what is expected of them, and to design their own impact pathways showing contribution toward the collaborative research program outcomes they will be responsible for monitoring and reporting.
  • The common denominator within a collaborative research program must be a harmonised monitoring and evaluation system so that we are producing evidence that aggregates at higher levels and across geographies, and provides a clear picture for all our partners of what results are occurring, what results are expected, and how they will be produced." (Jost et. al., 2014)


Jost, C.C., Kristjanson, P., Alvarez, S., Schuetz, T., Foerch, W., Cramer, L., & Thornton, P., (2014). Lessons in theory of  change: experiences  from CCAFS, Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). Retrieved from: http://ccafs.cgiar.org/publications/lessons-theory-change-experiences-ccafs#.U6o5ZvQW18G