Know-how, Resources, Motivation

We look at three commonly used generic factors for understanding human behaviour - know-how, resources and motivation - and rediscover them as inherent aspects of Theories of Change as understood by Theorymaker native speakers.

Social scientists often look for factors which help explain or understand or even predict how people and groups of people might respond in any given situation. Sometimes that is a lot of work. It would be very useful if we had some kind of generic format or template for these explanations rather than having to reinvent the wheel every time. Perhaps the most common format involves looking for three particular factors namely

  • know-how
  • resources
  • motivation

I’m certainly not trying to suggest that this is in any way a foregone conclusion or an established consensus, but it’s a format I found plausible and used myself plenty of times even prior to my engagement with Theories of Change in particular.

What is surprising and rather neat is this we have another way and much more interesting way to understand these three factors if we turn back to what we just learnt about Theories of Change. Namely, the three interlocking elements that define a Theory of Change, namely being able to make an intervention according to an understanding of how these things work in order to maximise things of value to us, we find just exactly these three elements, again namely know-how, resources and motivation. But we don’t find them as three generic variables, rather we find them embedded in that the idea of change. So rather than having to grab these three elements out of thin air or argue for them on the basis of research, we can derive them from the understanding we just established about what it is to do X to get Y.