Developing a Theory of Change for Sport and Employability
In this section we address two broad issues:
How to develop a theory of change.
How to visually present a theory of change.
As theories of change reflect the circumstances and nature of individual programmes and their assumptions, it is not possible to provide a universal template. The illustrative theory of change presented below was developed on the basis of case study research in 10 European sport-for-employability programmes. It is not presented as a normative model but simply to provide a stimulus to thinking about each programmes’ own theory of change.
Further, because the collective process of developing a theory of change is developmental, it is important that each organisation develops its own.
Not only is a theory of change approach useful for programme and organisational development, but it is also useful for communication with funders. Weiss (1997) argued that policy makers like stories and a theory of change is a coherent story as to how and why a programme works. Further, she indicated that it increases your ability to attribute measured change to participation in the programme as the approach “can track the unfolding of events, step-by-step, and thus make causal attributions on the basis of demonstrated links. If this were so, evaluation would not need randomized control groups to justify its claims about causality.” (Weiss, 1997: 154).
We hope that the example in this section will provide a stimulus for the discussion and development of a theory of change for your programme or reconsideration of an existing one.