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Using the Political Economy Analysis to Improve EU Development Effectiveness_DRAFT

This background paper has been prepared as part of a broader DEVCO exercise to bring together existing guidance on development practice into one harmonised document, the Project and Programme Cycle Management (PPCM) Guidance. The concept paper explains what is meant by political economy analysis, why it matters fundamentally for understanding development challenges and outcomes, and the implications for donors. It also offers practical guidance on how to undertake political economy analysis at country and sector level, and suggests how to draw on the analysis to inform every aspect of EU development activity, including programming, identification and formulation of specific interventions, risk management and policy dialogue.

 The background paper is complemented with two annexes that present political economy analysis tools to be used at country and sector level. These will be posted shortly on capacity4dev.

Overview of the background paper:

Section 1 explains the key concepts underpinning political economy analysis. This theoretical perspective shows how political economy can help understand local processes. .

Section 2 explains why political economy analysis is needed and how to draw on analysis in making operational choices at country and sector level how it can help inform risk assessment and policy dialogue.

Section 3 explains the range of political economy analysis tools available, and introduces two approaches that can be used to undertake analysis at country and sector level. Detailed guidance is given in the annexes.

Section 4 covers practical aspects of undertaking political economy analysis including timing, resource requirements, sources and research methods and advice on managing the process.

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Dear Chantal (and others),

Herewith some comments on the draft paper on political economy analysis. As an ADM trainer (TC reform, SWAp and CD) the topic of political economy regularly surfaced in the joint events that I facilitated, both in Brussels and the Delegations. For me the question is not whether this instrument is useful; it is. Not only when preparing a CSP, the entire programme cycle needs to be informed by the political economy analysis. And because the political context is often not stable, it necessitates a flexible approach in the multi-annual support programmes (especially in fragile environments). Aid has become more political so a proper tool to deal with this aspect is needed. The question is how to make the tool operational in the complex EU bureaucracy. The ideas below may, or may not, be feasible.

First, and this is already mentioned in par. 1.1 of the paper, bring together the existing guidance on PPCM. It mentions to arrive at one document, this may be a little too ambitious. Nevertheless, staff at the delegations would be happy to see a coherent approach among the guidelines and reference documents. A recent document to be added to the list and that partly overlaps with this paper may be the EU draft guidance note Technical Cooperation in Fragile Situations (final draft, 21 July 2010) in which also the formal and informal political realities are addressed.

The TC Reform Guidelines (March 2009) were a further operationalisation of the Backbone Strategy (July 2008), which was implemented through Workplan Phases one and two. The major achievement and tangible result of all these efforts was that a Quality Assessment Grid was introduced as a necessary step in programme preparation. A political economy analysis would fit in that grid, but this analysis is much more than having a place in the preparatory phase. For this to happen, pol-ec analysis is to become part of the Delegation’s mind-set, which is not an easy job. The experiences with the SGACA exercises at Dutch embassies in the past are examples of this difficulty. The paper suggests to use these experiences in setting up a good strategy for the EU.

The way I have experienced the Delegations’ mind-set is that there is a clear distinction between the political and the development ‘wing’. There is coordination between the two, but at operational level there are partly separate streams of work. Using a pol-ec anlysis approach would imply that politically oriented staff become more development oriented and development oriented staff more politically oriented. Possibly these required changes in individual and organisational capacity also need to take place at HQ in Brussels. The paper suggests that the exercise should be led by Delegations (par. 6.9), and that it will spread after intitial results are shown. In my opinion this will only happen if top-management (Delegation and HQ) thinks this is a good idea and that it will pursue their interests.

The paper correctly emphasises that incentives are important drivers of change in societies. This is also the case in a ‘sub-system’ like the EU. With the proper incentives, staff and managers will move towards other practices. In other words, if the objective is to move towards an increased use of pol-ec analysis in the entire programme cycle, why would staff and managers start doing that? This touches the issue of performance management: motivation, supervision, control, career, etc. It implies that those wishing to introduce pol-ec analysis need to work together with those responsible for human resource management.

So far my comments, hope it will be of use.
Regards,
Jos Brand

Can you plesase upload the annexes as well?
Thanks

We will promise!

Dear Chantal (and others),

Herewith some comments on the draft paper on political economy analysis. As an ADM trainer (TC reform, SWAp and CD) the topic of political economy regularly surfaced in the joint events that I facilitated, both in Brussels and the Delegations. For me the question is not whether this instrument is useful; it is. Not only when preparing a CSP, the entire programme cycle needs to be informed by the political economy analysis. And because the political context is often not stable, it necessitates a flexible approach in the multi-annual support programmes (especially in fragile environments). Aid has become more political so a proper tool to deal with this aspect is needed. The question is how to make the tool operational in the complex EU bureaucracy. The ideas below may, or may not, be feasible.

First, and this is already mentioned in par. 1.1 of the paper, bring together the existing guidance on PPCM. It mentions to arrive at one document, this may be a little too ambitious. Nevertheless, staff at the delegations would be happy to see a coherent approach among the guidelines and reference documents. A recent document to be added to the list and that partly overlaps with this paper may be the EU draft guidance note Technical Cooperation in Fragile Situations (final draft, 21 July 2010) in which also the formal and informal political realities are addressed.

The TC Reform Guidelines (March 2009) were a further operationalisation of the Backbone Strategy (July 2008), which was implemented through Workplan Phases one and two. The major achievement and tangible result of all these efforts was that a Quality Assessment Grid was introduced as a necessary step in programme preparation. A political economy analysis would fit in that grid, but this analysis is much more than having a place in the preparatory phase. For this to happen, pol-ec analysis is to become part of the Delegation’s mind-set, which is not an easy job. The experiences with the SGACA exercises at Dutch embassies in the past are examples of this difficulty. The paper suggests to use these experiences in setting up a good strategy for the EU.

The way I have experienced the Delegations’ mind-set is that there is a clear distinction between the political and the development ‘wing’. There is coordination between the two, but at operational level there are partly separate streams of work. Using a pol-ec anlysis approach would imply that politically oriented staff become more development oriented and development oriented staff more politically oriented. Possibly these required changes in individual and organisational capacity also need to take place at HQ in Brussels. The paper suggests that the exercise should be led by Delegations (par. 6.9), and that it will spread after intitial results are shown. In my opinion this will only happen if top-management (Delegation and HQ) thinks this is a good idea and that it will pursue their interests.

The paper correctly emphasises that incentives are important drivers of change in societies. This is also the case in a ‘sub-system’ like the EU. With the proper incentives, staff and managers will move towards other practices. In other words, if the objective is to move towards an increased use of pol-ec analysis in the entire programme cycle, why would staff and managers start doing that? This touches the issue of performance management: motivation, supervision, control, career, etc. It implies that those wishing to introduce pol-ec analysis need to work together with those responsible for human resource management.

So far my comments, hope it will be of use.
Regards,
Jos Brand

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2 May 2013

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