Seeing through the logical framework

Daniel E Martinez, David J Cooper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this study, we examine the key management and scientific traditions that inform the logical framework, a project planning and evaluation tool that is central to how many non-governmental organizations (NGOs) manage their projects and provide accounts to funders. Through an analysis of USAID reports from the 1960s and 1970s, interviews with the logical framework’s developers, and a close reading of seminal texts, we identify how systems theory, management by objectives, and scientific theory informed how USAID problematized its project planning and evaluation practices and how they came to be inscribed into the logical framework as a way to address such perceived problems. We argue that these traditions are important for understanding a particular strand of managerialization that informs international development NGOs, and, more generally, for understanding how funding agencies ‘‘see’’ through the logical framework.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1239-1253
Number of pages15
JournalVoluntas: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations
Issue number6
Early online date6 May 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 6 May 2020


  • logical framework
  • managerialism
  • state
  • Non-governmental organizations (NGOs)


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