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Creating Change: Examining Policy Change Theories

By Rachel L. West
The Political Social Worker

In a new report The Center for Evaluation Innovation examines varies advocacy and policy change theories and how these theories can be used in advocacy work. Pathways to Change: 10 Theories to Inform Advocacy and Policy Change Efforts was authored by Sarah Stachowiak.

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. (Source)

The report looks at both global and tactical theories such as Regime theory, community organizing theory and Diffusion of Innovations. You can read the report here.

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photo credit: JoshuaMHoover via photopin cc

Posted by Rachel L. West

In addition to being the founder of The Political Social Worker blog, I am a consultant. My consulting practice offers advocacy and community outreach solutions to nonprofits, social good organizations, and private practitioners. Additionally, I offer career coaching to macro social work students and professionals.


  1. I LOVE the Center for Evaluation Innovation folks. Tanya Beer is one of my advocacy heroines! I just saw this too and am so glad that you highlighted it for your readers!

  2. Thank you! This is great.


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