Researching the politics of development



The political settlement and social provisioning in Cambodia


In this project, political settlements and social provisioning in Cambodia are explored, using the health service as the unit of analysis.


Cambodia is an interesting case for ESID’s work on political settlements, apparently occupying an intermediate position between other dominant-party states, such as Rwanda and Uganda (though this remains to be confirmed). The addition of an Asian case to ESID’s set of dominant party political settlements provides additional inferential leverage over the question of whether and how political settlements matter generally for development.

Research questions

The analysis of the health sector examines:

  • The ‘sectoral manifestation’ of the political settlement;
  • A diagnosis of the ‘drivers of organisational behaviour’;
  • An assessment of the ‘exercise of citizenship’.

A map of the political settlement is generated, which then helps to frame the research questions for later stages of this work.

Methods and research design

The study is being conducted in two stages. Stage 1 involves a mapping of political settlements and drawing connections with Cambodia’s broader developmental experience. Stage 2 consists of an analysis of social provisioning in the health sector.
Data collection is conducted through a review of newspaper sources and secondary literature, together with four focus group sessions using key informants with different areas of expertise. Stage 2 uses existing statistical surveys to analyse the health sector.

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

This project helps to pursue each of ESID’s core research questions, analysing the incentives and ideas that drive the behaviour of key actors in the health sector, including political and policy elites, international actors and NGOs, and front-line workers.


Lead ResearcherTim KelsallCambodia Development Research Institute
ResearcherOu SivhuochCambodia Development Research Institute
ResearcherSeiha HengCambodia Development Research Institute


Journal article
Tim Kelsall (2018). ‘Towards a universal political settlement concept: A response to Mushtaq Khan‘. African Affairs 117(469): 656-669.
ESID working papers
Tim Kelsall and Seiha Heng (2014). ‘The political economy of inclusive healthcare in Cambodia‘. ESID Working Paper 43.
Tim Kelsall and Seiha Heng (2014). ‘The political settlement and economic growth in Cambodia‘. ESID Working Paper 37.