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Results-Expectations Chart (in public management)

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PPGPortal > Home > Concept Dictionary > R > Results-Expectations Chart (in public management)

Results-Expectations Chart (in public management) 

A type of chart that is used to guide the management and reporting of performance.

(Mayne, 2002, pp. 36-39)


The following section is drawn from: J. Mayne “Reporting on Outcomes: Setting Performance Expectations and Telling Performance Stories.” (2004)

A results chain should be at the heart of setting outcome expectations for a program. A sensible way of setting performance expectations is to develop a results chain. Expectations for a program are not that just one or two specific outputs and outcomes will occur, but rather that the whole chain of events presented in the results chain - the program theory - will occur. Setting expectations for managing and reporting performance entails setting out a results-expectations chart.

This remains the case when the high-level objectives have been set by governments or legislatures. In order to effectively implement government intentions, understanding which specific activities, outputs, and chain of outcomes are likely to best lead to the objectives is essential to good public management.

A results-expectations chart requires:

• setting out a results chain that clearly defines each key element of the chain;

• presenting the contribution or intervention logic, including the context, of why and to what extent it is expected that the activities and outputs of the program will contribute to the sequence of expected outcomes;

• identifying the clear and concrete outputs to be produced; and

• identifying at least some of the outcomes to be achieved in clear and concrete terms — it may not be useful to try to measure everything.

A results chain is like a logic model, which can be developed to show, usually in some detail, the causal sequence of outputs and outcomes. But the results chains suggested here do not try to provide that level of detail. They are based on the espoused theory of the program. As a result, they do not necessarily require confirmation about causality, which is often associated with developing a program theory on which a logic model is based. Results chains are suggested here as a structure for describing the expectations of a program (and as a basis for reporting the subsequent performance story). Of course, the better understood the theory of the program is, the more realistic the expectations set out will be.

Where the results chain describes a program, it should include the planned expenditures. Where efficiency is an important aspect of performance, the expected unit costs of the outputs produced should be part of the results chain description of outputs. A complete picture of performance expectations, in addition, would discuss the legitimacy of the expectations — how they were set, their consistency with legislation, mandate, and mission, their reasonableness, and their significance. The table below outlines a results-expectations chart.


Quoted From: Mayne, J. (2004). “Reporting on Outcomes: Setting Performance Expectations and Telling Performance Stories”. Canadian Journal of Program Evaluation, 19 (1), pp. 31-60.


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© University of Toronto 2008
School of Public Policy and Governance