Skip to main content


Go Search
New Atlas
Atlas, A-Z
Atlas Maps
MPP/MPA Programs
Core Topics
Illustrative Courses
Topic Encyclopedia
Concept Dictionary
Career Tips
Best Practices Project

PPGPortal > Home > Concept Dictionary > N, O > Outcome


An external consequence attributed, in part, to an organization, policy, program or initiative that is considered significant in relation to its commitments.

(Treasury Board Secretariat)


Outcomes are often categorized using a three-tiered classification system that distinguishes between "immediate," "intermediate" and "final" outcomes. A definition for each different type of outcome is provided below:

1. Immediate Outcome: an outcome that is directly attributable to a policy, program or initiative's outputs. In terms of time frame and level, these are short-term outcomes and are often at the level of an increase in awareness of a target population.

2. Intermediate Outcome: an outcome that is expected to logically occur once one or more immediate outcomes have been achieved. In terms of time frame and level, these are medium term outcomes and are often at the change of behaviour level among a target population.

3. Final (sometimes Ultimate) Outcome: the highest-level outcome that can be reasonably attributed to a policy, program or initiative in causal manner, and is the consequence of one or more intermediate outcomes having been achieved. These outcomes usually represent the raison d'etre of a policy, program or initiative. They are long-term outcomes that represent a change of state of a target population. Ultimate outcomes of individual programs, policies or initiatives contribute to the higher-level departmental Strategic Outcomes.

Outcomes may be direct or indirect, and include intended and unintended consequences.


Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) (2002). Glossary of Key Terms in Evaluation and Results Based Management. Paris. Retrieved on June 25, 2008, from

Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat. “Career Development in the Federal Public Service – Building a World-Class Workforce.” Last modified April 8, 1999. Accessed August 11, 2009.


Important Notices
© University of Toronto 2008
School of Public Policy and Governance