The kind of theory of theory-driven evaluation

“… the kind of theory we have in mind is not the global conceptual schemes of the grand theorists, but much more prosaic theories that are concerned with how human organizations work and how social problems are generated. It advances evaluation practice very little to adopt one or another of current global theories in attacking, say, the problem of juvenile delinquency, but it does help a great deal to understand the authority structure in schools and the mechanisms of peer group influence and parental discipline in designing and evaluating a program that is supposed to reduce disciplinary problems in schools. Nor are we advocating an approach that rests exclusively on proven theoretical schema that have received wide acclaim in published social science literatures. What we are strongly advocating is the necessity for theorizing, for constructing plausible and defensible models of how programs can be expected to work before evaluating them. Indeed the theory-driven perspective is closer to what econometricians call ‘model specification’ than are more complicated and more abstract and general theories.”

Chen, H.-T., & Rossi, P. H. (1983, p. 285). Evaluating With Sense: The Theory-Driven Approach. Evaluation Review, 7(3), 283–302.