Political Economy Online Library

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4. Practical Issues

4.1 How to manage political economy analysis

Practical guidance on using political economy analysis can be found in DFID’s how to note (DFID 2009).

Harris and Booth (2013) highlight five key design issues for PEA studies: 1) selecting from the different models for integrating political economy analysis into operations, 2) how political economy exercises vary in scope and purpose, 3) the appropriate timing of political economy work, 4) defining quality and the necessary skills and expertise, and 5) achieving and monitoring uptake into programmes.

Recent guidance has highlighted the limitations of conducting PEA as an occasional, one-off study contracted to external consultants, and has called for greater use of in-house resources by development agencies. A recent paper by ESID emphasises the importance of scaling and sequencing, arguing that PEA should start small, for example with short conversation amongst experts and practitioners before scaling up to include a more in-depth workshop or research agenda (ESID, 2015). Other papers have also called for more interaction forms of enquiry (Copestake and Williams (2012), and everyday PEA using slimmed down and accessible analytical frameworks (Marquette and Fisher, 2014).

4.2 Translating political economy analysis into action

There are several reviews of how political economy analysis has been conducted and used to inform operational decision making. Some of the key documents include:

More general analyses of difficulties experienced by development partners attempting to think and work more politically include Carothers and De Grammont (2013), Booth et al. (2016), and Hulme and Yanguas, 2015.