Revisiting Contribution Analysis

  • John Mayne

Abstract

The basic ideas behind contribution analysis were set out in 2001. Since then, interest in the approach has grown and contribution analysis has been operationalized in different ways. In addition, several reviews of the approach have been published and raise a few concerns. In this article, I clarify several of the key concepts behind contribution analysis, including contributory causes and contribution claims. I discuss the need for reasonably robust theories of change and the use of nested theories of change to unpack complex settings. On contribution claims, I argue the need for causal narratives to arrive at credible claims, the limited role that external causal factors play in arriving at contribution claims, the use of robust theories of change to avoid bias, and the fact that opinions of stakeholders on the contribution made are not central in arriving at contribution claims.

Author Biography

John Mayne

The basic ideas behind contribution analysis were set out in 2001. Since then, interest in the approach has slowly grown and a variety of ways to operationalize contribution analysis have been reported on. In addition, several reviews of the approach have been undertaken with a variety of concerns raised. In this article, I clarify several of the key concepts behind contribution analysis including contributory causes and contribution claims. I discuss the need for reasonably robust theories of change and the use of nested theories of change to unpack complex settings. On contribution claims, I argue the need for causal narratives to arrive at credible claims, the limited role external causal factors need play in arriving at contribution claims, the use of robust theories of change to avoid bias, and that opinions on contributions should not play a role in arriving at contribution claims.

Published
2019-12-09
Section
Articles- English