Political economy analysis has been a favourite instrument among donors of development aid since roughly the turn of the century. Donors have emphasised the usefulness of such forms of analysis because they realised that their focus on the formal aspects of the social and political organisation of countries had caused them to overlook important elements of the “political economy” of these countries. As a result, political and governance reform programmes, which had become part and parcel of the agenda of development under the post-Washington consensus, turned out to be much less effective than anticipated.The call for donor agencies to “look behind the façade” of formal institutions in developing countries has thus come as part of the aid effectiveness agenda. It was argued that the effectiveness of development assistance policies would be enhanced if the realities of social and political power structures in developing countries were mapped and fed into the design of governance reforms targeting those countries. A more or less tacit assumption was that political economy analysis would enable donors to identify potential pockets of resistance to the reforms that they were advocating – hence improving the chances of getting reforms accepted.

International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University (ISS)

Hout, W. (2015). Putting Political Economy to Use in Aid Policies. In Alan Whaites, Eduardo Gonzalez, Sara Fyson and Graham Teskey (eds), A Governance Practitioner’s Notebook: Alternative Ideas and Approaches, (OECD 2015) (pp. 83–97). Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/1765/79126