Researching the politics of development



Donors, development agencies and the use of political economic analysis: Getting to grips with the politics of development?

Working paper 19

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Laura Routley and David Hulme


This paper examines the take up of Political Economic Analysis (PEA) tools and approaches by development agencies. It charts the emergence of PEA, reviews the embryonic literature on this phenomenon and asks whether this approach assists donors and development agencies to comprehend politics and the impact of politics on the effectiveness of their programmes. There are distinct limits to what PEA can achieve in terms of development agencies fully engaging with politics due to their own political-economy and institutional constraints. The real impact of close to a decade of increasing numbers of PEAs remains unknown. In conclusion we propose further research which will examine the effects of PEA approaches on development agencies and on the governments and societies which have been subject to PEAs and the resultant changes in development agencies policies and practices.