2. Political Economy Analysis Tools

2.1 Types of PEA

A paper by the Effective States and Inclusive Development team distinguishes between three fundamental types of PEA: (1) Agenda setting or contextual analysis (or learning the game), (2) problem solving analysis (winning the game) and (3) influencing analysis (changing the game) (ESID, 2015). Each of these types of PEA can be applied at different levels (global, regional, country, sectoral and sub-sectoral).

The different types of PEA are also explained in The Beginner’s Guide to PEA from the National School of Government International (Whaites, 2017).

This paper aims to show that three different types of political economy analysis: agenda-setting, problem-solving, and influencing analysis, can be tailored to a variety of contexts depending on the development goals and the barriers that exist to development.

The government’s guide to political economy analysis (PEA) brings together the best materials that are available on the components of PEA, different varieties, and tools for conducting PEA, into one easily accessible document.

2.2 Analytical frameworks

There is a large variety of analytical frameworks for PEA. Many of the frameworks have common features and work through similar steps. We list below a few of the analytical frameworks that have been developed:


There is a large variety of analytical frameworks for PEA. Many of the frameworks have common features and work through similar steps. We list below a few of the analytical frameworks that have been developed:

- DFID’s Drivers of Change Framework (DFID, 2004).

- World Bank’s Problem Driven Political Economy Analysis (Fritz, Levy & Ort 2014)

- UNDP – Institutional and Context Analysis (UNDP, 2012)

- European Commission concept paper on ‘Using Political Economy Analysis to Improve Development Effectiveness’ (Unsworth & Williams, 2011) and its annex on country level political economy analysis (EC, 2011).

- The Netherlands – Strategic Governance and Corruption Assessment (SGACA) (CRU 2008)

- SIDA Power Analysis (SIDA, 2013)

- A five lenses framework for analysing the political economy in regional integration (Byiers, Vanheukelom & Kingombe, 2015).


How can donors improve their knowledge to support effective change in developing countries?

This book provides an overview and a set of case studies of the World Bank’s experiences in applying a problem-driven political economy analysis approach to its development programmes, including both successes and failures.

This Guidance Note offers ideas on undertaking country level Institutional and Context Analysis (ICA) to develop a Country Programme (Chapter 1) and conducting an ICA at the sector or project level (Chapter 2).

This draft concept paper explains what is meant by political economy analysis, why it matters for understanding development challenges and outcomes, and the implications for donors, particularly the EU.

This annex to the draft concept paper presents an analytical framework for undertaking political economy analysis at the country Level.

The Strategic Governance and Corruption Analysis (SGACA) promotes a more strategic approach to analysing governance and anti-corruption and has been designed as a tool to enhance analysis of the governance climate in recipient countries.

The aim of this guide is to offer practical advice and tools for practitioners and development organisations who are wanting to bring an understanding of power into development cooperation.

This paper introduces a new political economy framework in the form of five lenses that aim to gain a deeper understanding of the political economy features of particular reforms and integration processes.

2.3 Analytical tools

The following papers provide useful toolkits for the application of particular analytical approaches when conducting political economy analysis.

- Stakeholder analysis. Swiss Development Cooperation has prepared comprehensive guidance on the use of stakeholder analysis (SDC, 2011)

- Analysis of collective action problems from a game theory perspective. See Corduneau-Huci, Hamilton and Masses Ferrer (2013)

- Everyday political analysis. A simple, stripped down tool to understand why actors behave in particular ways and what is their ability to bring about change (Hudson, Marquette and Waldock, 2016)

PDIA toolkit: A DIY approach to solving complex problems (2018).  See also, the related book: Building state capability evidence, analysis, action (Andrews, Pritchett & Woolcock, 2018).

- Wateraid political economy analysis toolkit (WaterAid, 2015).

This report from Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC) presents stakeholder analysis, which allows for identification and analysis of the different stakeholders that determine the success or failure of a development programme.

This book provides the reader with the full panoply of political economy tools and concepts necessary to understand, analyse, and integrate how political and social factors may influence the success or failure of their policy goals.

This Brief introduces a framework that emphasises the importance of thinking about politics and power in development and demonstrates how it can be used within different development programmes.

Drawing from the Building State Capability: Evidence, Analysis, Action book this toolkit attempts to provide a guide to solving complex problems to drive change through analysis of the local context, identifying action steps, taking action, and finally reviewing and adapting.


This book uses a problem-driven iterative adaption approach to identify why some governments lack the capacity to build effective states. It describes how capability traps can be caused by ‘isomorphic mimicry’ and premature load bearing.

WaterAid presents a political analysis toolkit for four different purposes: (1) country strategy PEA, (2) sector strategy PEA (3) tactical PEA, and (4) everyday PEA. For each tool, guidance is provided about use, application, and the implications for development.

This pre-PEA checklist created by USAID helps determine key questions and  points before undertaking a PEA, including participation and team composition.