This Center for Evaluation Innovation brief produced in collaboration with ORS Impact summarizes 10 theories grounded in social science about how policy change happens.
The ﬁrst Pathways for Change brief originally was published in 2008 in response to growing interest from evaluators, funders, and advocates to evaluate advocacy and policy change efforts. Since that time, the ﬁeld of advocacy and policy change evaluation has grown, and theories of change continue to serve as bedrock for evaluative efforts. Given this context, the time is ripe to expand on the original work.
This updated brief maintains most of the content from the original piece and provides information on four additional theories. It continues to focus on theories most directly applicable to either understanding how policy change happens or how speciﬁc advocacy tactics play out; this brief does not focus on more comprehensive social science theories. Additionally, at the time of the original brief, the utility and application of this work were largely theoretical. This update includes an expanded section on how evaluators, advocates, and funders can apply these theories to advocacy and policy work.