Can Aid Bureaucracies Think Politically? The Administrative Challenges of Political Economy Analysis (PEA) in DFID and the World Bank

ESID Working Paper No 33

29 Pages Posted: 21 May 2014 Last revised: 11 Feb 2015

See all articles by Pablo Yanguas

Pablo Yanguas

University of Manchester

David Hulme

University of Manchester - Institute for Development Policy and Management (IDPM)

Date Written: May 20, 2014

Abstract

Although politics has become central to international development assistance, the use of political economy analysis (PEA) as a means for greater aid effectiveness remains an aspiring epistemic agenda. Even though virtually all aid donors have some personnel working on the development and implementation of PEA methodologies and frameworks, whether this new cognitive model for aid is compatible with pre-existing administrative factors is still an open question. We argue that for PEA to become fully institutionalised in donor agencies it needs to overcome the hurdles of administrative viability: its proponents need to reconcile it with corporate and professional incentives, as well as with the political environment in which an agency operates. We track this process empirically within two PEA leaders: the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and the World Bank. Using documents and interviews from headquarters as well as three country offices – Bangladesh, Ghana, Uganda – we find that political economy analysis has not yet become institutionalised in programming, management or the professions, and remains an intellectual agenda very much rooted in the governance silo. We conclude by arguing that the future of PEA lies in organisational change, not any particular framework, and that this change is more likely to occur by disseminating PEA outside of the governance profession into agency management and the various sectors of development assistance.

Keywords: political economy analysis, donors, aid effectiveness, public administration, organisational sociology

Suggested Citation

Yanguas, Pablo and Hulme, David, Can Aid Bureaucracies Think Politically? The Administrative Challenges of Political Economy Analysis (PEA) in DFID and the World Bank (May 20, 2014). ESID Working Paper No 33, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2439237 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2439237

Pablo Yanguas (Contact Author)

University of Manchester ( email )

Oxford Road
Manchester, M13 9PL
United Kingdom

David Hulme

University of Manchester - Institute for Development Policy and Management (IDPM) ( email )

Manchester M13 9GH
United Kingdom

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