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The logic model is a general framework for describing work in an organization. Since work is often packaged in programs, it is often referred to as the program logic model.

Definition Edit

In its simplest form, the logic model analyzes work into four categories or steps: inputs, activities, outputs, and outcomes. These represent the logical flow from:

  1. inputs (resources such as money, employees, and equipment) to
  2. work activities, programs or processes, to
  3. the immediate outputs of the work that are delivered to customers, to
  4. outcomes or results that are the long-term consequences of delivering outputs.

The basic logic model typically is displayed in a diagram such as this:



By describing work in this way, managers have an easier way to define the work and measure it. Performance measures can be drawn from any of the steps. One of the key insights of the logic model is the importance of measuring final outcomes or results, because it is quite possible to waste time and money (inputs), "spin the wheels" on work activities, or produce outputs without achieving desired outcomes. It is these outcomes (impacts, long-term results) that are the only justification for doing the work in the first place. For commercial organizations, outcomes relate to profit. For not-for-profit or governmental organizations, outcomes relate to successful achievement of mission or program goals.

Variations on the Theme Edit

Following the early development of the logic model in the 1970s by Joseph Wholey and others, many refinements and variations have been added to the basic concept. These have incorporated language that is more familiar to a particular field.

One of the common challenges facing organizations is how to measure outcomes. Because outcomes are delayed in time and may be mixed with many other causes, it is often difficult to measure them, even though outcomes are the most important strategic measures. Therefore some managers insert a step called "intermediate outcomes" between outputs and outcomes. Intermediate outcome measures are leading or indirect indicators of end outcomes. Intermediate outcomes often have to do with customer satisfaction, which explains why there has been an increase in the use of customer satisfaction surveys in modern management. The advantage of customer surveys is that they are relatively quick and easy to implement, but if properly designed they can give meaningful feedback on customer perceptions, which are relevant to outcomes.

University Cooperative Extension Programs in the US have developed a more elaborate logic model, called the Program Action Logic Model, which includes six steps:

  • Inputs (what we invest)
  • Outputs:
    • Activities (the actual tasks we do)
    • Participation (who we serve; customers & stakeholders)
  • Outcomes - Impacts
  • Short Term (learning: awareness, knowledge, skills, motivations)
  • Medium Term (action: behavior, practice, decisions, policies)
  • Long Term (consequences: social, economic, environmental etc.)

In front of Inputs, there is a description of a Situation and Priorities. These are the considerations that determine what Inputs will be needed.

The University of Wisconsin Extension offers a series of guidance documents [1] on the use of logic models. There is also an extensive bibliography [2] of work on this program logic model.

Uses of the Logic Model Edit

Program PlanningEdit

One of the most important uses of the logic model is for program planning. Here it helps managers to 'plan with the end in mind' [Stephen Covey], rather than just consider inputs (e.g. budgets, employees) or just the tasks that must be done. By placing the focus on ultimate outcomes or results, planners can think backwards through the logic model to identify how best to achieve the desired results. Planners therefore need to understand the difference between the categories of the logic model.

Performance EvaluationEdit

The logic model is often used in government or not-for-profit organizations, where the mission and vision are not aimed at achieving a financial benefit. In such situations, where profit is not the intended result, it may be difficult to monitor progress toward outcomes. A program logic model provides such indicators, in terms of output and outcome measures of performance. It is therefore important in these organizations to carefully specify the desired results, and consider how to monitor them over time. Often, such as in education or social programs, the outcomes are long-term and mission success is far in the future. In these cases, intermediate or shorter-term outcomes may be identified that provide an indication of progress toward the ultimate long-term outcome.

Traditionally, government programs were described only in terms of their budgets. It is easy to measure the amount of money spent on a program, but this is a poor indicator of mission success. Likewise it is relatively easy to measure the amount of work done (e.g. number of workers or number of years spent), but the workers may have just been 'spinning their wheels' without getting very far in terms of ultimate results or outcomes. The production of outputs is a better indicator that something was delivered to customers, but it is still possible that the output did not really meet the customer's needs, was not used, etc. Therefore, the focus on results or outcomes has become a mantra in government and not-for-profit programs.

The President's Management Agenda [3] is an example of the increasing emphasis on results in government management. It states:

"Government likes to begin things — to declare grand new programs and causes. But good beginnings are not the measure of success. What matters in the end is completion. Performance. Results."

This document refers to results seventy times.

The Logic Model and other Management Frameworks Edit

There are numerous other popular management frameworks that have been developed in recent decades. This often causes confusion, because the various frameworks have different functions. It is important to select the right tool for the job. The following list of popular management tools is suggested to indicate where they are most appropriate (this list is by no means complete):

    Organizational assessment tools - fact-gathering tools for a comprehensive view of the as-is situation in an organization, but without prescribing how to change it:
    Strategic planning tools - for identifying and prioritizing major long-term desired results in an organization, and strategies to achieve those results:
    • Strategic Vision (Writing a clear "picture of the future" statement)
    • Strategy Maps
    • Portfolio Management (Managing a portfolio of interdependent projects)
    • Participatory Impact Pathways Analysis (An approach for project staff and stakeholders to jointly agree on a vision, develop a logic model and an evaluation plan)
    Program planning and evaluation tools - for developing details of individual programs (what to do and what to measure) once overall strategies have been defined:
    Performance measurement tools - for measuring, monitoring and reporting the quality, efficiency, speed, cost and other aspects of projects, programs and/or processes:


  1. guidance documents
  2. bibliography
  3. President's Management Agenda (2002)

References Edit

The following references on the logic model were compiled by Alan Listiak of the American Evaluation Association. They are focused on "how-to" develop and use logic models in program development and evaluation. They were posted on EVALTALK, the listserv of the American Evaluation Association. AEA membership is not required to join the list.

  • Mayeske, George W. and Michael T. Lambur (2001). How to Design Better Programs: A Staff Centered Stakeholder Approach to Program Logic Modeling. Crofton, MD: The Program Design Institute. Highly Recommended.
  • Mayeske, George W. (2002). How to Develop Better Programs & Determine Their Results: An Organic & Heuristic Client & Staff Centered Approach with Stakeholder Involvement. Bowie, MD: The Program Design Institute. Highly Recommended.

The first manual (How to Design Better Programs) is a step-by-step guide to developing and implementing logic models. The second manual (How to Develop Better Programs) deals focuses on how-to develop experiential educational programs "based on, but not restricted to, the use of program logic models which serve as a tool for the development process." (from the Foreword).

Both manuals are available from The Program Design Institute, c/o Dr. George W. Mayeske, 12524 Knowledge Lane, Bowie, MD 20715-2622. The Logic Modeling manual is $28.00 (includes shipping) and the Better Pro-grams manual is $45.00 (including shipping) - checks only. But both manuals can be purchased at a discount. Contact Dr. Mayeske for details at

Available for no cost by clicking on the link to the guide on the right of the page. This guide is not as detailed as the Program Design Institute guides on the nuts and bolts of logic modeling, but is better at discussing program theory and its application. And it's free for the downloading. Highly Recommended.

Also see: W. K. Kellogg Foundation (1998). W. K. Kellogg Foundation Evaluation Handbook. Available at no cost through this site by clicking on the link to the handbook.

National Evaluation Data and Technical Assistance Center, Caliber Associates. Highly Recommended.

This paper discusses the use of logic models in planning and evaluating substance abuse treatment services. The best part is the "sample data maps" that specify evaluation questions, measures, and variables. The paper is part of the Integrated Evaluation Methods Package for substance abuse treatment programs developed under the auspices of the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, Department of Health and Human Services. The full discussion of this evaluation framework, concepts, and tools is presented in: Devine, Patricia (1999). A Guide for Substance Abuse Treatment Knowledge-Generating Activities. Fairfax, VA: National Evaluation Data and Technical Assistance Center, Caliber Associates.

There are other papers in the Integrated Evaluation Methods Package available at under the heading Substance Abuse Research and Evaluation, Evaluation Tools and Resources. These papers include: Devine, Patricia (1999). A Guide to Process Evaluation of Substance Abuse Treatment Services. Fairfax, VA: National Evaluation Data and Technical Assistance Center, Caliber Associates. Devine, Patricia, Bullman, Stephanie, & Zeaske, Jessica (1999). Substance Abuse Treatment Evaluation Product Outlines Notebook. Fairfax, VA: National Evaluation Data and Technical Assistance Center, Caliber Associates. Devine, Patricia, Christopherson, Eric, Bishop, Sharon, Lowery, Jacquelyn, & Moore, Melody (1999). Self- Adjusting Treatment Evaluation Model. Fairfax, VA: National Evaluation Data and Technical Assistance Center, Caliber Associates.

  • The University of Wisconsin-Cooperative Extension has an online course entitled, Enhancing Program

Performance with Logic Models. The course contains two modules - Module 1, "Logic Model Basics," is an introduction to logic models; and Module 2, "Introducing The Community Nutrition Education Logic Model," is an application of logic models to community nutrition education programs. Each module has various interactive elements, including practice activities designed to help students better understand the course content. The citation is: Taylor-Powell, E., Jones, L., & Henert, E. (2002) Enhancing Program Performance with Logic Models. Retrieved December 1, 2003, from the University of Wisconsin-Extension web site:

be purchased for $5.00 plus S&H by calling 1-800-772-0008 and ordering item number 0989. You can find the manual's table of contents and excerpts on the United Way web site.

Providers.] Washington, DC: The Urban Institute.

This guide focuses on developing a logic model and selecting and implementing an evaluation design. Gives an example of a logic model for a children-at-risk program.

[Making children's mental health services successful series, volume 1]. Tampa, FL: University of South Florida, The Louis de la Parte Florida Mental Health Institute, Department of Child & Family Studies. This monograph is a guide to developing a system of care using a theory-based approach. System stakeholders can use the theory of change approach to move from ideas to action-oriented strategies to achieve their goals and understand the relationships among the populations that the system is intended to serve.

Other resourcesEdit

  • Alter, C. & Murty, S. (1997). Logic modeling: A tool for teaching practice evaluation. Journal of Social Work Education, 33(1), 103-117.
  • Conrad, Kendon J., & Randolph, Frances L. (1999). Creating and using logic models: Four perspectives. Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly, 17(1-2), 17-32.
  • Hernandez, Mario (2000). Using logic models and program theory to build outcome accountability. Education and Treatment of Children, 23(1), 24-41.
  • Julian, David A. (1997). The utilization of the logic model as a system level planning and evaluation device. Evaluation and Program Planning, 20(3), 251-257.
  • McLaughlin, J. A., & Jordan, G. B. (1999). Logic models: A tool for telling your program's performance story. Evaluation and Program Planning, 22(1), 65-72.
  • Stinchcomb, Jeanne B. (2001). Using logic modeling to focus evaluation efforts: Translating operational theories into practical measures. Journal of Offender Rehabilitation, 33(2), 47-65.
  • Unrau, Y.A. (2001). Using client exit interviews to illuminate outcomes in program logic models: A case example. Evaluation and Program Planning, 24(4), 353-361.

Additional referencesEdit

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