4. Practical Guidance on Using Political Economy Analysis.

4.1 How to manage political economy analysis

There are a number of good guides on how to do PEA, including one by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT, 2016)  as well as Whaites (2017)’s excellent Beginners Guide to Political Economy Analysis.

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 paper by ESID emphasises the importance of scaling and sequencing, arguing that PEA should start small, for example with a 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 interactive forms of enquiry (Copestake and Williams, 2012), and everyday PEA using slimmed down and accessible analytical frameworks (Marquette and Fisher, 2014).

The purpose of this DFAT note is to give an overview of the importance of political economy analysis (PEA) by exploring the different approaches to PEA and how to plan and undertake a PEA.

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.

This note aims to provide basic guidance for newcomers to the field.  It focuses on five issues in political economy analysis: different models; variety of scope; timing; defining quality and skill; and monitoring uptake.

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.

This paper sets out a framework to address the challenges that arise in political economy analysis due to the differences in commitments, capacity and outlook amongst stakeholders within development programmes.

This paper argues that attempts to mainstream political thinking in most donor agencies have turned a desire to ‘think politically’ into a political economy analysis (PEA) product which has been largely ineffective.  They urge donors to return to throw away this model and rethink the relationship between politics and international development.

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:

Studies have also evaluated how political economy analysis has been conducted in specific sectors. These include:

  • Food security: Strengthening Policies for Better Food Security and Nutrition Results (FAO, 2017).
  • Climate Change: National Climate Change Governance (GSDRC, 2017).

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).

This report presents the findings of the 2018 Monitoring Round of the Global Partnership and assesses how effectively development partners deliver support that is focused on country-owned development priorities and that draws on existing country systems and capacities.

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 article discusses the Strategic Governance and Corruption Analysis, which was introduced in 2007 by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs as a tool for political-economy analysis of governance structures in aid-receiving countries.

This note describes the challenges of political economy analysis (PEA) in relation to food security and nutrition and offers guidance for how these can be overcome by following PEA frameworks and tools.

In this guide, GSDRC summaries key literature and case studies on political economy approaches to environmental development and institutional capacities to show how local stakeholders can be better supported to implement climate and sustainable development policies.

This book seeks to explain and assess the history of development aid’s attempts to think and act more politically.

This paper reflects on the experiences of policy researchers to ask “Under what conditions does an understanding of political economy strengthen aid-supported development efforts?”

This article uses qualitative data from two governance “leaders” – the United Kingdom Department for International Development and the World Bank – to analyse the administrative hurdles facing the institutionalization of political analysis in aid bureaucracies.