Donors Doing Political Economy Analysis™: From Process to Product (and Back Again?)
University of Birmingham - International Development Department
University of Birmingham
January 24, 2013
ISA Annual Convention panel on ‘Politicising or Depoliticising Aid? The Political Economy of Political Economy Analysis’, San Francisco, 3-6 April 2013, Forthcoming
This paper refocuses current debate on political economy analysis (PEA) by firstly critiquing existing scholarly tendencies to analyze donors through a particular lens, as a unique analytical category, which does not adequately capture donor officials as the civil servants they are. Current donor debates which move the purpose of PEA away from ‘thinking politically’ towards ‘managing risk’ may thus not reflect failure to mainstream PEA, but instead reflect a logical response from civil servants when faced with a product that exists to flag up risks or potential failure. Informed by Hood’s work (2010) on risk and blame, the paper argues that by understanding donors as blame-averse civil servants, we can better comprehend their continued ambivalence towards PEA. Secondly, the paper responds to a second critique of PEA, which highlights its politically sensitive nature. The paper argues that this sensitivity is not simply an operational matter but instead presents a significant challenge to donor commitments to country ownership. The paper explores how both of these issues have played-out in the World Bank’s evolving work on PEA. Drawing on interview data and participant observation, it is suggested that the Bank may be better placed to navigate these complexities given its apolitical mandate.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 30
Keywords: political economy, donors, DFID, World Bank, aid
Date posted: January 25, 2013
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