'Logical frameworks', a critical assessment: managerial theory, pluralistic practice

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Logical frameworks (LFs), product of a managerialism which emphasises hierarchically ordered and quantified objectives, are often rife with logical confusions. The paper identifies problems common in specifying "vertical logic" and "horizontal logic". LFs can support systematic thinking about choices in a pluralistic and uncontrollable world, but hinder us if they suggest that difficulties are minor, or commit us to crude indicators or outdated targets. This "good servant, bad master" theme is deepened by considering whose servant the LF is or can be: a tool for central control, as has commonly been the case, but potentially also an opener up of negotiation about purposes and assumptions. The paper traces the evolution from LF's USAID origins, through the more logical and somewhat less centralist ZOPP, to recent more sophisticated and/or democratically oriented versions. It differentiates aspects (e.g. objectives setting, objectives-hierarchy, measurement to various degrees, the project approach), that are separable and have different implications. Outcomes with LFs depend on which aspects are emphasized, on when and how intelligently they are employed, and whose servant they become.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationDen Haag
PublisherInternational Institute of Social Studies (ISS)
Number of pages46
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1997

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SeriesISS working papers. General series


  • ISS Working Paper-General Series


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