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Logical Framework (Logframe)

Summary

The Logical Framework, or logframe, is a widely used monitoring concept and a standard requirement for funding applications for development-related projects. Like the Theory of Change it has its origins in 1960s programme theory. Its continued popularity for project planning and monitoring is derived from its perceived simplicity, allowing for the provision of a concise overview of an intervention (American Evaluation Association, nd) with a four-by-four matrix. That simplicity and apparent objectivity has however also attracted much criticism, as being “applied in an over-standardized, rigid and top-down manner”, thus “often failing to reflect the messy realities facing development actors” (USAID, 2012: 2).

The challenge for transdisciplinary research projects is to distil the complexity of the proposed project meaningfully into the logframe matrix while leaving enough flexibility for the open-endedness of research. The literature included in this part of the resource bank takes a critical view and provides suggestions that might trigger reflexive processes and discussions on how to adapt and use the logframe to enhance your research project.


How to write a logical framework (logframe), B. Piroska

Piroska, B. (n.d.). How to write a logical framework (logframe). [online] Tools4dev.org. Available at: http://www.tools4dev.org/resources/how-to-write-a-logical-framework-logframe [Accessed 8 Oct. 2019].

IGSD review

This blog is a useful guide for filling in the logframe as it provides guidance and addresses frequently ask questions, such as whether to complete the framework from the top-down or bottom-up. It also provides an example of an “illogical” framework and the “if-then” causality to ensure that the text in risks and assumptions column makes sense. The latter is a helpful tip, especially since a review report (see Vogel, 2012) suggested that this column tends to be used for blanket disclaimers and thus limits the value of the logframe.

The Logical Framework: Technical Note, USAID

USAID (2012) The Logical Framework: Technical Note. [online] MandE.co.uk. Available at: https://www.mande.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/USAID%20Tech%20Note%20re%20Logical%20Framework%202014 [Accessed 8 Oct. 2019]

USAID’s Technical Note is placed within that organisation’s institutional framing and includes references to the need to maintain consistency between the logframe and USAID’s Country wider Development Cooperation Strategy, which at first sight is less relevant for research projects. However, this long-term approach encourages the reader to continuously monitor changes in the status of assumptions throughout the project. In the context of research funding applications, this suggestion could be translated into a comment on how the project stakeholders might collectively take an adaptive approach to the logframe implementation, thus viewing it as dynamic project tool. The technical note also provides suggestions for setting baselines for the indicator column.

Logical frameworks: Limitations and variations to improve their quality, American Evaluation Association (n.d.)

American Evaluation Association (n.d.) Logical frameworks: Limitations and variations to improve their quality. [online] comm.eval.org. Available at: http://comm.eval.org/HigherLogic/System/DownloadDocumentFile.ashx?DocumentFileKey=9d0b161a-114e-406b-b9ac-3e6f61646c9e&forceDialog=0 [Accessed 8 Oct. 2019]

IGSD review

Based on an in-depth chapter elsewhere (see Hummelbrunner, 2010 in FASID, 2010, for those who want to do further reading), this document succinctly summarises the logframe elements. It also lists three failings that, if not critically addressed, limit the framework’s impact potential (“logic-less frame, lack-frame, and lockframe”) because it glosses over power imblances and neglects bottom-up views, leading to “cultural alienation” (p.3) at best and a colonial approach at worst. Its relevance to development-related research projects thus derives from its key recommendation – that “in complicated situations [such as a trans-disciplinary and transnational research project; comment added by IGSD]…the logical framework approach can only be applied with much caution and should be complemented with other methods that are better suited for these conditions” (American Evaluation Association, n.d.: 7). The document suggests three methods (Project Cycle Management, Social Network Analytics, and Outcome Mapping) to address these shortcomings.