What we do
Since 2004, the Policy Practice has established a reputation for being at the forefront of political economy theory and practice for development. The main aim has been to ensure that programmes supporting policy and institutional reforms in developing countries are soundly based on political and economic realities.
The company has undertaken a wide range of assignments using political economy analysis to understand the processes of socio-economic change, to design policy and programmes, to support implementation, and to assess effectiveness. Along with its work with governments, it has played a lead role in encouraging the main official multilateral and bilateral development agencies to integrate political economy analysis into their ways of working. Through running an online and face-to-face training course since 2008, it has supported skills development for over 1,000 staff of these agencies.
How we work
The company’s work links world-class policy analysis with a detailed and locally-grounded understanding of institutions, processes, networks and alliances, and uses this to provide strategic advice and support to practical interventions. The company has contributed to current thinking on methods for political economy analysis, including theories of change which link analysis to the design of interventions. Principals of the company have specialist knowledge of particular countries and sectors, and have strong connections to government, the private sector, civil society, media and research organisations. Principals also bring to bear their own long working experience within official agencies, academia and the private sector. In drawing out workable implications for development policies and programmes, the company prefers to work collaboratively with development agencies and other clients commissioning its work.
This grasp of both theory and good practice, with the aim of pointing to innovative solutions, calls not just for detailed knowledge of particular historical and political settings, but also for an understanding of changing international contexts — such as growing concerns about failing states and the impact of conflict, the emergence of large middle-income countries, and the complex impacts of globalisation.
In order to examine how and why political, social, economic and institutional change comes about and endures, or is obstructed, the company’s multi-disciplinary approach examines structural and institutional factors that combine to shape the incentives and motivations facing political leaders, civil servants, the private sector (whether domestic or international), civil society actors, and development agencies themselves.
The company’s Principals have experience of most countries of Africa and south Asia, in south-east and central Asia, in central America and the Caribbean, working both country-specifically and comparatively. They have links with many research and academic institutions across the globe.
The Policy Practice has established administrative and financial capacity to support multi-year complex projects.
Types of work
A list of recent projects undertaken by the company can be found here. In summary the types of work undertaken by the company’s Principals include:
- Analysis of policies and institutions, taking a multidisciplinary approach to understanding the choices facing governments and development agencies, identifying options, and making recommendations. Projects include a review of donor approaches to risk in fragile and conflict-affected states for the OECD; the development of governance indicators for extractive industries for the World Bank Institute; a study of the international drivers of corruption; and a range of projects associated with the political economy of the energy sector, including energy access, energy and gender, the international trade in electricity in Africa, and the production of electricity from agro-industries.
- Programme design, implementation support, review, monitoring and evaluation. Projects include: supporting implementation of a public administration reform programme in Nigeria; supporting the design of a new regional trade programme in Southern Africa based on an assessment of the political economy challenges and opportunities; supporting a civil society programme in Rwanda; undertaking reviews and design missions for initiatives to make markets work for poor people; analysis of the political economy of public financial management, and a political economy and institutional assessment of a large agribusiness project in Nigeria.
- Producing guidance manuals and training material on political economy analysis for a number of development agencies and governments including DFID, the EU, USAID and the World Bank.
- Teaching and training. The Policy Practice (with ODI) has developed and run over 30 three-day face-to-face and eight-week online political economy training courses for organisations including the UK government, the European Commission, the Government of the Netherlands, GIZ, Irish Aid, Belgian Technical Cooperation, Swiss Development Cooperation, the UNDP, the IMF, Transparency International and the Hague Academy for Local Governance.
- Library. The company maintains a freely-accessible annotated political economy bibliography with active links to source material.