Revisiting Contribution Analysis

< Back to: Volume 34 - 2019 - Fall
Authors :


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.

Keywords: causal factors, causal narratives, contribution analysis, contribution claims, contributory causes, theories of change