“No rigorous distinction is possible…”

“No rigorous distinction is possible between theory-driven evaluation (science), TBE [theory-based evaluation], theory-anchored evaluation, realistic evaluation, contribution analysis, evaluation based on a logic model, and a theory of change. I shall here refer pragmatically only to TBE as an umbrella term for all evaluation strategies and approaches where a core task is to construct and clarify a set of assumptions about why and how an intervention works explicitly in the form of a written or graphic description of a causal chain of events (the program theory).

“The term program theory is habitual and should not be restricted to programs only because a similar logic can be applied in evaluations of policies, projects, and many kinds of interventions (Rogers, 2007). In a similar vein, the term β€œtheory” has rough edges. A theory used in TBE may refer to something more or less explicit and articulate, more or less abstract and formal, and more or less stakeholder based versus anchored in general social science theory.”

– Dahler-Larsen, P. (2018, p. 9). Theory-Based Evaluation Meets Ambiguity: The Role of Janus Variables. American Journal of Evaluation, 39(1), 6–23.