Thinking Big: how to use theory of change for systems change

The Gathering 2018

Year of publication
Rob Abercrombie, Katie Boswell and Rosanna Thomasoo ( Lankelly Chase / NPC)

Many third sector organisations are trying to make a difference to difficult and persistent social problems like substance misuse, homelessness, and generational disadvantage. These are systemic problems as much as individual ones. Consequently, more and more organisations that have set out to address them are thinking of their work as ‘systems change’.

This paper is the result of an inquiry into whether theory of change is helpful or unhelpful for planning systems
change. The authors looked at questions like: Does theory of change encourage organisations to think systemically?
Is it a useful planning tool for those explicitly pursuing systems change? Can it provide the kind of constructive
but fundamental challenge that is needed?
The findings have been pulled together here for organisations who want to take a systemic approach to their work.

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