4. Practical Guidance on Using 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).
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:
- Making Development Co-operation more effective (UNDP, 2019).
- Problem-Driven Political Economy Analysis The World Bank’s Experience (Fritz, Levy, & Ort, 2014).
- Hout and Schakel (2015) for a review on the Dutch experience of using the SGACA tool.
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).