Can the Logical Framework help to manage change? Perspectives from the field of Security Sector Reform

Daniel Szczepanski and Tom De Herdt
Discussion paper 2019.04

Despite its widespread popularity, the logical framework (LF) has also been the subject of much criticism in development. Much of this critique contends that many development processes are associated with non-linear and dynamic change, while notions of change as implied by the logical framework are based on a predicted set of causal and linear results. This critique is all the more poignant for in the domain of peacebuilding and security sector reform (SSR), where the perceived dissonance between the assumptions inherent in the LF and the complexity and unpredictability of typical SSR environments is all the bigger.  Based on an analysis of the perceptions of SSR practitioners, we find that the logical framework’s ability to pre-determine change is limited, as it is particularly utilized as a communications tool and mainly during a projects’ design stage. Evidence suggests that determining the change process during the stage of project design was often the subject of a dialectic relationship and lengthy discussions between the various stakeholders and that the logical framework was found quite helpful in this phase of the project cycle. Its use as a communications tool, primarily during project design and the complex dialectic process of negotiation during its creation, largely explain why its perceived inability to predict and manage the complexity of change is not experienced as a problematic feature, that would ‘straightjacket’ the change process itself.

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