Researching the politics of development



Political Economy Analysis (PEA) and the production of commitment to development


This research project systematically examines how International Development Agencies (IDAs) are using Political Economy Analysis (PEA) both as formal evaluations and more informally as ongoing practices of engagement and relationship building to inform IDA practices in particular contexts – centring on IDA activities at the country office level.


This project studies the use of PEA by UK Department for International Development (DFID) and World Bank country offices in Bangladesh, Ghana and Uganda.

Research question

How can PEA (Political Economic Analysis) conducted by international development agencies successfully engender and deepen state commitment to (and capacity for) inclusive development?

Methods and research design

Groundwork and a baseline will involve document review and semi-structured interviews with relevant World Bank and DFID employees and independent advisors involved in the PEA process. Tracking is one of the central phases of the project and will involve semi- structured interviews with key informants in country offices and with those within the relevant state whom they highlight as key partners.

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

This is a vital element of the ESID research project, as it deals directly with issues of the production of commitment for inclusive development.  Analysis of the types of activities and actions successfully undertaken by IDAs to increase the commitment to and/or capacity for development of institutions, elites, groups and individuals will be a significant contribution towards ESID’s interrogation of these processes. The findings will also be vital to discussions of the role of external agents in these processes.


Lead ResearcherDavid HulmeThe University of Manchester, UK
ResearcherSarah HuntThe University of Manchester, UK
ResearcherPablo YanguasThe University of Manchester, UK


Publications and presentations

Yanguas, Pablo (2018). Why We Lie About Aid: Development and the Messy Politics of Change. London: Zed Books.
Hulme, David, Turner, Mark and McCourt, W
Journal article
Yanguas, Pablo (2017). ‘The role and responsibility of foreign aid in recipient political settlements‘, Journal of International Development 29(2): 211-228.
ESID publications
Hunt, Sarah (2015). ‘Breaking the rules, breaking the game: External ideals, politics and inclusive development in Honduras‘. ESID Working Paper 52.
Yanguas, Pablo (2015). ‘The role and responsibility of foreign aid in recipient political settlements‘. ESID Working Paper 56.
Yanguas, Pablo (2015). ‘Making political analysis useful: Adjusting and scaling‘. ESID Briefing Paper 12.
Yanguas, Pablo, and David Hulme (2014). ‘Mainstreaming political economy analysis (PEA) in donor agencies‘. ESID Briefing Paper 5.
Yanguas, Pablo, and David Hulme (2014). ‘Can aid bureaucracies think politically? The administrative challenges of political economy analysis (PEA) in DFID and the World Bank‘. ESID Working Paper 33.
Routley, Laura, and David Hulme (2013). ‘Donors, development agencies and the use of Political Economy Analysis: Getting to grips with the politics of development?ESID Working Paper 19.
ESID blog
Yanguas, Pablo and Jordan, Chris, 29 April 2015: Political analysis: sticking plaster or salvation?
Yanguas, Pablo, 7 November 2014: ‘Doing Development Differently: The future is now-ish‘.
Wild, Leni, 11 August 2014: ‘Learning why and how reform works will improve UK aid‘ .
Hunt, Sarah, 17 June 2014: ‘Training in political economy analysis‘.
Yanguas, Pablo, 7 May 2014: ‘Politics in the trenches of development: Mainstreaming political economy analysis in aid agencies‘.
Yanguas, Pablo (2013). ‘Principle and practice in Political Economy Analysis: A comparative study of DFID and the World Bank in Ghana’. Presentation at Making Politics Practical II, University of Birmingham, 15 November:
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