Evaluation Glossary

Emergent Outcomes

In complex dynamic systems, self-organizing interactions among people give rise to outcomes that may be different from, or in addition to, any anticipated or targeted outcomes. Subgroups of people in a program may have experiences together that produce emergent outcomes specific to that subgroup and distinct from a program's hoped-for outcomes. Disappearance is the other side of emergence. The unplanned emerges; the planned disappears.


Michael Quinn Patton, personal communication, February 28, 2013.

Related Terms

Indirect Benefit
Indirect Impact
Unanticipated Outcomes
Unintended Outcomes