1.15: External factors

Logic model with external factors highlighted.

The environment in which the program exists includes a variety of external factors that can influence the program’s success. External factors include the cultural milieu, the climate, economic structure, housing patterns, demographic patterns, political environment, background and experiences of program participants, media influence, and changing policies and priorities. These external factors may have a major influence on the achievement of outcomes. We can’t ignore them! They may affect a variety of things including the following:

  • Program implementation
  • Participants and recipients
  • The speed and degree to which change occurs
  • Staffing patterns and resources available

These factors interact with the program. They not only influence the initiative but are influenced by the initiative. A program does not sit in isolation – somehow “outside” or “apart” from its surrounding environment. A program is affected by and affects these external factors.

The external factors include the conditions that influence program success, over which the program has relatively little control.

Examples: politics, economy, climate, cultural milieu, history, biophysical environment, price structure, global markets, demographic patterns, resources. You need to assess what external factors are likely to influence the program’s ability to achieve expected results–When? How?

  • What can you manipulate?
  • What risk management strategies or contingency plans do you need to put into place?
  • What factor(s) is the program likely to interact with and potentially have an influence on? How might these dynamics affect program implementation and outcomes?

Some people use the term environment to remind us that programs exist within–are affected by and influence–an environment that functions as a complex system of unlimited potential causes and effects. In our logic model conceptualization, all six components may be embedded in a surrounding environment.

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