Making causal claims
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Mayne, J. (2012) Making causal claims. ILAC Brief 26 p. 4
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/70211
An ongoing challenge in evaluation is the need to make credible causal claims linking observed results to the actions of interventions. In the very common situation where the intervention is only one of a number of causal factors at play, the problem is compounded – no one factor 'caused' the result. The intervention on its own is neither necessary nor sufficient to bring about the result. The Brief argues the need for a different perspective on causality. One can still speak of the intervention making a difference in the sense that the intervention was a necessary element of a package of causal factors that together were sufficient to bring about the results. It was a contributory cause. The Brief further argues that theories of change are models showing how an intervention operates as a contributory cause. Using theories of change, approaches such as contribution analysis can be used to demonstrate that the intervention made a difference – that it was a contributory cause – and to explain how and why.