Theory of Action

Template P Content Blocks
In this image:An IPA enumerator (right) and a general accountant review financial data during an IPA study in Colombia. © 2019 Luz Karime Palacios
Body Copy

Drawing on our experiences and that of our partners, IPA’s Theory of Action outlines the conditions necessary for evidence to influence policy, and the work IPA does to create those conditions.

Since our founding, IPA has learned that generating evidence (even really good evidence) is not enough, and sharing evidence with implementers does not go far enough, either. Instead, we have found that several conditions need to be in place to foster the sustainable use of evidence at scale. In practice, this involves partnering, listening, translating, and ultimately creating buy-in for designing policies and programs that are informed by data and evidence.

So how do we do it?

Over the past few years, we have doubled down on our ability to support decision-makers in their use of data and evidence. The starting point is that there is evidence available and that it is both credible and relevant to the context and decision point at hand. We also work hard to make sure that it is accessible—that means translating technical or jargon-y academic language into plain language that is relatable for the user.

We know that what works with one population or in one context may not apply to another. Translating evidence from one context to another requires careful consideration of the program design, but also changes or tweaks in design and delivery. We work with partners to think through a structured way of learning about these changes so that programs and policies can be adapted for the greatest likely impact, alongside a learning plan to test whether our assumptions about the needed changes are correct.

Even with robust knowledge about an intervention, it is impossible to put that knowledge to use without the resources—financial and human—to implement a program, the technical know-how on how to deliver a program, or the fundamental will and appetite to use evidence that is available. To achieve these necessary conditions, IPA works closely with a wide range of partners of collaborators to build coalitions of technical experts, advocates, policymakers, and researchers to take evidence along the pathway to impact.