SGACA: The Rise and Paradoxical Demise of a Political-Economy Instrument – Hout and Schakel (2015)


This article discusses the Strategic Governance and Corruption Analysis (SGACA), 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. Power and Change Analysis acted as the main feature for this concept. It aimed to outline key governance dynamics and draw ‘operational implications’ for policy making on development assistance. SGACA was seen as a strong analytical tool, but it was discarded within one policy cycle of four years. The paper provides an explanation for this paradox by drawing on the literature on policy innovations. The authors argue that there are three causes of the demise of this political-economy instrument. The first is related to the collective-action problems involved in getting innovations implemented in the apparatus of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where embassies have substantial independence. The second factor concerns the fact that the policy window that had opened for SGACA by the mid-2000s did not stay open throughout the implementation process. The third cause derives from the bureaucratic politics that played out in the environment where SGACA had been developed.