The evolving art of political economy analysis – Copestake and Williams (2012)


This paper sets out a framework to address the challenges that political economy analysis faces when operating in increasingly complex and uncertain contexts. Often stakeholders will have strong differences in commitment, capacity and outlook to development programmes. Consequently, it can be challenging to build and sustain relationships between these stakeholders. Increasingly, political economy analysis (PEA) is being used by development agencies to respond to this challenge, however, the potential of PEA to inform more radical reform has yet to be realised in full. Doing so entails converting detailed analysis into concrete action at the same time as being more open about the political economy of how development agencies and practitioners themselves operate. This paper suggests that there is a need to shift from an ‘intervention’ to an ‘interaction’ model of action that builds on the micro-politics of Machiavelli as much as the macro-politics of Marx. Additionally, it argues that PEA must be used in a way that is more problem specific, reflexive and agile.