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Donors Doing Political Economy Analysis™: From Process to Product (and Back Again?)

ISA Annual Convention panel on ‘Politicising or Depoliticising Aid? The Political Economy of Political Economy Analysis’, San Francisco, 3-6 April 2013, Forthcoming

30 Pages Posted: 25 Jan 2013  

Jonathan Fisher

University of Birmingham - International Development Department

Heather Marquette

University of Birmingham

Date Written: January 24, 2013

Abstract

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.

Keywords: political economy, donors, DFID, World Bank, aid

Suggested Citation

Fisher, Jonathan and Marquette, Heather, Donors Doing Political Economy Analysis™: From Process to Product (and Back Again?) (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. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2206474 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2206474

Jonathan Fisher (Contact Author)

University of Birmingham - International Development Department ( email )

Edgbaston
Birmingham, B15 2TT
United Kingdom

Heather Marquette

University of Birmingham ( email )

International Development Department
Edgbaston
Birmingham, Birmingham B15 2TT B15 2TT
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://www.idd.bham.ac.uk

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