Section Overview

This section is about the steps of actually doing evaluation using Theorymaker, based on Theories, and in particular based on Theories of Change. We see that the evaluation process is essentially a complex Mechanism which takes a Project (the Mechanism which a Theory of Change describes) as its input and outputs a Report on the quality of the Project; how well did it maximise value?

Evaluation Report

 (reporting Mechanism)Best Adequate Theory of the Project to be evaluated

In most cases, this “reporting Mechanism” will be wicked - it will involve emerging Variables and Rules, etc. Just as real-world projects only get interesting when they get wicked, real-world evaluations almost always involve wicked reporting Rules. But just as the easiest way to learn how Theorymaker deals with projects and Theories of Change is to look at non-wicked cases first, the easiest way to learn about Evaluation from a Theorymaker perspective is also to look at the non-wicked cases first.

Following a couple of initial Chapters presenting Evaluation as a kind of Reporting, the rest of the Chapters in this Section each describe a step in an idealised evaluation.

Note that these steps and the way that revising the Theory of Change is an iterative process have strong similarity with (Mayne 2012, 272)

If this all sounds very “mechanical” to you, remember: any or all of the Rules involved in the Project Mechanism and/or in the Evaluation Mechanism may be subject to fuzziness, emergence and indeterminacy, as we will see in section xx.


Mayne, John. 2012. “Contribution analysis: Coming of age?” Evaluation 18 (3): 270–80. doi:10.1177/1356389012451663.