Case studies

ECDPM, 2016: The political economy of regional integration in Africa – case studiesThis series of studies looks at the drivers, challenges and the political economy of regional integration in Africa

Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2015: Improving Development Aid Design and Evaluation: Plan for Sailboats, Not Trains, by Rachel Kleinfeld– This paper looks at the difficulty of using effective measurement programs whilst  engaging with politics and policy. The authors argue  the measurement techniques gaining popularity are those least able to determine how to implement political reforms.

ODI, 2015: Adapting development: how local reformers revolutionised land rights in the Philippines  [Video] This case study examines how activists in the Philippines used adaptive development strategies to increase property ownership.

GSDRC, 2015: Political economy of energy in southern Africa by Roisin Hinds – this paper looks at the political economy of the energy sector in Southern  Africa. By evaluating recent literature on this subject the author concludes some African states, with encouragement from international donors, have developed regional power sharing arrangements as a strategy to deal with the continent’s energy problems. Power pools aim to balance electrical loads over a larger network, lower electricity prices, and expand access by encouraging trade and investment in the sector

ODI, 2015: Adapting development: improving services to the poor, by Leni Wild, David Booth, Clare Cummings, Marta Foresti and Joseph Wales – This report argues that in order to  avoid reproducing the pattern of uneven progress that has characterised the MDG campaign, there must be more explicit recognition of the political conditions that enable or obstruct development progress.

ODI, 2015: Case study: State Partnership for Accountability, Responsiveness and Capability by Victoria Chambers, Clare Cummings and Hamish Nixon – Nigeria is one of the UK Department for International Development’s (DFID’s) largest governance portfolios, and the State Partnership, Accountability, Responsiveness and Capability (SPARC) programme is one of its central components. This study assesses how the SPARC programme functions in light of recent shifts in PSR thinking and practice, and considers lessons for future governance reform programmes.

ODI, 2014:  Aiding institutional reform in developing countries: lessons from the Philippines on what works, what doesn’t and why, by David Booth – This paper examines two reform programmes. It concludes successful change is discovered in a problem-solving, iterative and learning-oriented way.

World Bank, 2014:  Political economy and forced displacement : guidance and lessons from nine country case studies by Ray Jennings, Nat Colletta, Cordelia Chesnutt– This report was produced for the Global Program on Forced Displacement and describes why and how to conduct political economy analysis (PEA) of forced displacement. It also illustrates how PEA may contribute to understanding forced displacement crises with nine case studies: Casamance (Senegal), Colombia, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, the Philippines, Somalia, South Sudan, and Zimbabwe.

ODI, 2014: The political economy of inclusive healthcare in Cambodia, by Tim Kelsall and Seiha Heng – This working paper explores and seeks to explain some of the deep-seated problems of the Cambodian health system. This paper concludes that the current situation is as a result of Cambodia’s ‘political settlement’, in which relatively successful multi-stakeholder initiatives exist as ‘islands of effectiveness’ in a sea of rent-seeking and patronage.

AGI, 2014Building capacity in Rwanda through SCBI, by  Matt Andrews and Leni Wild  – This case study examines a capacity building program in Rwanda

ODI, 2014: ‘Learning while doing’ in Rwanda: what we can learn from AGI (and what they missed) by Leni Wild – This blog post analyses a caste study from an AGI capacity building program in Rwanda. It discusses where the program was successful and what more could be done in future programs

ODI, 2014: The SAVI programme in Nigeria: towards politically smart, locally led development, by David Booth – This paper finds that SAVI illustrates the power of facilitated multi-stakeholder engagement and the disadvantages of seeing this in terms of ‘supply side’ and ‘demand side’ governance.

ODI, 2014: Politically smart, locally led development, by David Booth and Sue Unsworth  This paper presents seven cases of aid-funded interventions.  The central message is that donor staff were successful because they adopted politically smart, locally led approaches, adapting the way they worked in order to support iterative problem-solving and brokering of interests by politically astute local actors.

DFID, 2013: Thinking and acting politically: Supporting citizen engagement in governance: The experience of the State Accountability and Voice Initiative in NigeriaThis report concludes that aid agencies can ‘work with the grain’ by moving from capacity building to a hands-on facilitation and brokering relationships between citizens and the state

DLP, 2011: Working Politically Behind Red Lines: Structure and agency in a comparative study of women’s coalitions in Egypt and Jordan by Mariz Tadros – This study examines six cases of collective initiatives to advance women’s rights in Egypt and Jordan between 2000 and 2010. It explores what accounts for the emergence, success and failure of women’s coalitions in these two countries

Other  Publications

DLP, 2016: Thinking and Working Politically: From Theory Building to Building an Evidence Baseby Niheer Dasandi, Heather Marquette and Mark Robinson – This paper discusses the steps required to build a robust evidence base for ‘thinking and working politically’ (TWP) in development. The ideas behind TWP are increasingly common in development discussions, and understanding which parts are necessary and sufficient conditions for success is crucial for moving it into mainstream development programming.

ECDPM, 2016: The political economy of regional integration in Africa What drives and constrains regional organisations?  by  Jan Vanheukelom, Bruce Byiers, San Bilal and Sean Woolfrey – This report argues that although there has been promising commitments to regional cooperation in Africa from regional actors and donors regional integration has been slow. The authors present case studies and research which argues this has been as a result of a failure to understand the political or economic factors that drive or hinder regional integration.

ODI, 2016: From political economy analysis to doing development differently: a learning experience by David Booth, Daniel Harris and Leni Wild –  This paper examines seeks to understand under what conditions an understanding of political economy can strengthen aid-supported development efforts. Its findings are based on the experiences of policy researchers at ODI who have used adaptive approaches to development. The paper assesses the gains to be had from moving from broad-brush country analysis to more problem-driven approaches and recounts lessons learned from development agencies trying to embed political economy analysis into their work.

ECDPM, 2016: A five lenses framework for analysing the political economy in regional integration by Bruce Byiers, Jan Vanheukelom and Christian K.M. Kingombe – By reviewing the literature on regional cooperation this paper presents a new framework for regional cooperation and applies to two to examples;  the political drivers and constraints to regional  integration in the East African Community and a political economy analysis of the North-South Corridor.

GSDRC, 2016: Political dynamics and the effectiveness of aid programmes by Ed Laws,  As a result of the growing appreciation of the political barriers to development, donors and research organisations have developed a range of analytical frameworks and diagnostic tools to help navigate the political and economic conditions which can restrict the effectiveness of aid programmes.

DLP, 2015: Researching State legitimacy: A political approach to a political problemby Claire Mcloughlin – This paper carves a path through the sprawling debate on the meaning and measurement of state legitimacy and sets out a political approach to researching it.

GSDRC, 2015: Thinking and working politically by David Booth, This E-learning package provides development professionals guidance on how to include the principals of ‘thinking and working politically’ in program design to improve outcomes.

DLP, 2015: The Donor’s Dilemma: Thinking Politically About Difficult Choices, by Niheer Dasandi and Lior Erez – Giving aid to non-democratic development states can be problematic to donors. This paper establishes a conceptual framework that can assist donors facing this dilemma in a normative justified way.

SAVI 2015: Thinking and Working Politically: supporting partners and staff through a participatory approach to political economy analysis – This report uses experience from programs in Nigera to advise how to move from simple “political economy analysis” as an activity into ingraining thinking and working politically into all projects.

DLP, 2015: Gender and Power by Diane Koester  – This Concept Brief discusses the links between gender and power. Arguing that gender is donors have largely neglected ‘gender’ in their efforts to understand power relations in partner countries this paper contends that gender is one of the most persistent causes, consequences and manifestations of power relation. By addressing these blind spots, a focus on gender can significantly enhance donors’ insights into power dynamics and their ability to ‘think and work politically’ overall.

ODI, 2014: Services in the city: governance and political economy in urban service delivery by Harry Jones, Clare Cummings and Hamish Nixon – This discussion paper reviews literature on the political economy of four key urban services: solid waste management, water supply, transport, and urban health services. The four sector reviews demonstrate the importance of governance factors – partly rooted in physical, economic, social and political differences between rural and urban environments – in shaping service delivery in urban environments

ODI, 2014: The technical is political: what does this mean for the health sector? by Daniel Harris, Richard Batley and Joseph Wales – This brief, aims to help bridge the gap between governance and sector specialists by examining the politics and governance of the health sector through a ‘sector characteristics’ lens.

DLP, 2014: Security and Justice: Towards Politically Informed Programming by Shivit Bakrania –  This paper sets out to explore what the literature tells us about the politics of security and justice programming. It also aims to capture recommendations and approaches towards a more politically nuanced approach to donor programming in this area.

ODI, 2014: The technical is political: understanding the political implications of sector characteristics for the delivery of sanitation services by Nathaniel Mason, Richard Batley and Daniel Harris –  This brief, aims to help bridge the gap between technical assistance and political context in the sanitation sector.

ODI, 2014: The technical is political: understanding the political implications of sector characteristics for the delivery of drinking water services by Nathaniel Mason, Richard Batley and Daniel Harris – The water supply sector has characteristics that have political as well as technical implications. They affect the ways individuals and groups interact in relation to the delivery of drinking water services.

ODI, 2014: Analysing the politics of public services: a service characteristics approach by Richard Batley and Daniel Harris – The service characteristics approach, described in this paper, was developed as a tool to explain the political dynamics of particular services. It has been tested and elaborated in discussion with specialists in health, education, water and sanitation, focusing on current debates in each sector.

ODI, 2014: Getting real about politics: from thinking politically to working differently, by Alina Rocha Menocal –  The of this report author contends that despite efforts from the international community the developing world have remained unable to provide adequately for the well-being of their populations at large. This has helped crystallise the fact that the challenge of development lies not what needs to be done but how it needs to be done.  Getting to the ‘how’ requires a solid understanding of the institutional dynamics at work, both formal and informal, and the kinds of incentives they generate.

DLP, 2013: Political Engagement with Non-State Actors in Areas of Limited Statehood
by Suda Perera – This paper surveys the literature on development and NSAs. It sets out the evidence for the merits of engaging politically with NSAs by incorporating them into governance and statebuilding programmes, and examines the challenges this may pose

ODI, 2013: The technical is political: understanding the political implications of sector characteristics for education service delivery by Daniel Harris, Richard Batley, Claire Mcloughlin and Joseph Wales – This paper focuses on the education sector and argues using a structured approach to understanding the relationship between technical and political features can help to make sense of key sector debates (such as the role of access to information), reconcile apparent contradictions (for example, between political commitments and outcomes), and strengthen understanding of why education might either outpace or lag behind other sectors in a given context.

DLP, 2012: Workshop Paper – Coalitions in the Politics of Development – This report of a DLP coalitions workshop represents the first of a series of papers and research findings from the DLP that seek to clarify this pervasive feature of the politics of development and change. By bringing together practitioners, researchers and theorists from developed and developing societies we reckoned that some important continuities, generalizations and messages might emerge.

DLP, 2011: Thinking and Working Politically What does it mean? Why is it important? And how do you do it? by Adrian Leftwich – This  short notes suggests ways we might usefully conceptualise what it means to think and work politically in development.


ODI, 2016: Using political economy analysis in conflict, security and justice programmes by Lisa Denney – This guidance note provides a framework for implementers of conflict, security and justice programmes to conduct political economy analysis (PEA) at the design or inception phase to ensure a deep understanding of the context drives activities. The publication draws on ODI’s ongoing work employing PEA to security and justice programmes.

USAID, 2016: Applied Political Economy Analysis Field Guide by  Diana Cammack – This document provides an overview of the methodology currently being adopted by USAID in its programming. They are developing Applied PEA as a problem-focused methodology intended to be used by Mission staff to inform the design of aid interventions at any phase of the USAID program cycle and at any level of effort.

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