Thinking and working politically through applied political economy analysis – USAID (2018)


This guidance explains how the US Agency for International Development (USAID) can think and work in ways that are more politically aware — an approach known as “thinking and working politically” (TWP) — using applied political economy analysis.

For USAID, PEA is a structured approach to examining power dynamics and economic and social forces that influence development. This guide follows the definition of politics as the process of determining “who gets what, when and how.” It outlines an analytical approach (or the “thinking” component in TWP) to help explore a question or puzzle that USAID staff would like to understand in greater depth. This involves reflection on foundational influences (such as history or geography); the impact of immediate events and actors (such as leadership changes or natural disasters); and the institutional framework (encompassing formal laws and informal practices) that shapes the behaviours and outcomes observed. Considering all these dynamics, incentives and interests, PEA investigates where locally driven opportunities for change may emerge and where constraints to such change may need to be addressed.

The guide was published by USAID's Center of Excellence on Democracy, Human Rights and Governance and drafted by Alina Rocha Menocal, Marc Cassidy, Sarah Swift, David Jacobstein, Corinne Rothblum, and Ilona Tservil.