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Contribution analysis for adaptive management

Briefing/policy papers

This briefing note shares practical learning on the use of contribution analysis for adaptive management (CA4AM). It examines how the approach enables programmes to work with theories of change in a practical, reflexive way, and how, combined with assessing evidence of a programme’s contribution to change, its findings can inform programme adaptation. It also examines both how and to what extent CA enables AM through the experiences of four large complex programmes all working towards systems-level change and employing a structured process of reflection on theories of change.

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.

For feedback or questions about this briefing note please contact Stephanie Buell ([email protected]).

Marina Apgar, Kevin Hernandez and Giel Ton