Researching the politics of development



Education in competitive clientelist contexts: Bangladesh and Ghana


This project explores the politics of securing higher levels of capacity and commitment to delivering improved quality schooling.


Bangladesh and Ghana represent forms of ‘competitive clientelism’ with otherwise different contextual settings, offering the opportunity to test the effects of political settlement on capacity and commitment of governments to deliver effective forms of social provisioning.

Research questions

How do the dynamics of different political settlements shape the quality of social provision in different contexts? What role is played by ideology, ideas and other political factors?

  • Have reforms to drive up the quality of schooling been as successful as reforms aimed at enhancing the quantity?
  • What are the other key political drivers within particular political settlements (involving actors, interests, institutions, ideas) that shape the quantity and quality of educational provision?
  • In light of these findings, what are the policy implications for promoting inclusive development through improved levels of schooling?


Methods and research design

This project incorporates a comparative approach to generate findings of relevance to both theory and practice. The research design is a comparative case study, employing a mixed-methods approach.
The main methods are qualitative, involving key informant interviews across all stakeholders and analysis of key documents. Existing quantitative data, including randomised controlled trials, on quality of provision are also used. Analysis is conducted at two main levels: specific policy reforms; and detailed work in specific locations to track reform implementation.

How does this project fit within ESID’s research agenda?

This project falls within programme 3 on ‘the politics of social provision’, addressing all three core research questions. It particularly focuses on the analysis of incentives and ideas driving behaviour of key actors and elite commitment to improved quality as well as quantity of schooling. Addressing the ‘competitive clientelism’ model in Levy’s (2014)[1] typology of political settlements, it will be linked to a second project examining the ‘dominant party’ model, enabling a comparative analysis across different types of political settlement.


Lead ResearcherSamuel HickeyThe University of Manchester, UK
ResearcherEdward AmratwumCenter for Democratic Development (CDD), Ghana
ResearcherMirza HassanBRAC Development Institute (BDI), Bangladesh
ResearcherNaomi HossainInstitute of Development Studies (IDS), UK
ResearcherFranklin OduroCenter for Democratic Development (CDD), Ghana



Sam Hickey and Naomi Hossain (eds.). (2019). The Politics of Education in Developing Countries: From Schooling to Learning.  Oxford University Press. OPEN ACCESS.
Journal article
Mirza Hassan and Sohela Nazneen (2017). ‘Violence and the breakdown of the political settlement: an uncertain future for Bangladesh?Conflict, Security & Development 17(3): 205-223.
ESID working papers
Edward Ampratwum, Mohammed Awal and Franklin Oduro (2018). ‘Decentralisation and teacher accountability: How the political settlement shapes governance in the education sector at sub-national levels in Ghana‘. ESID Working Paper 102.
Naomi Hossain, Mirza Hassan, Md Ashikur Rahman, Khondoker Shakhawat Ali and M. Sajidul Islam (2017). ‘The problem with teachers: the political settlement and education quality reforms in Bangladesh‘. ESID Working Paper 86.
Mirza Hassan (2013). ‘Political settlement dynamics in a limited-access order: The case of Bangladesh‘. ESID Working Paper 23.

[1] Levy, B. (2014). Working with the Grain: Integrating Governance and Growth in Development Strategies. Oxford University Press.