The Governance Practitioner's Notebook: new OECD resource
This new resource from the OECD-DAC Network on Governance provides a collection of briefings for governance practitioners in development agencies. DLP's directors, Heather Marquette and David Hudson, are among the contributors, and set out their key points in a From Poverty to Power blog post.
The Governance Practitioner's Notebook: Alternative Ideas and Approaches focuses on three issues: politics, public sector reform and stakeholder engagement. It charts the evolution of governance thinking on major themes, and highlights the challenges and dilemmas practitioners currently face. It does not attempt to offer definitive guidance – instead aiming to stimulate thinking and debate. In his introductory blog post, co-editor Alan Whaites suggests that an important central message of this resource is 'the need to remain open, innovative and inquisitive'.
Heather Marquette and David Hudson have contributed to the politics section, writing on What's missing in political economy analysis and why it matters (PDF). They argue that it is everyday, practical issues that make uptake of PEA/political analysis and the overarching 'thinking and working politically' agenda difficult. They highlight four gaps that undermine PEA's practical impact:
- Organisational gaps between individuals' desires to design and implement politically informed programmes and the support and opportunities that their organisation provides.
- Evidential gaps: despite lots of evidence that ignoring politics can be disastrous for aid effectiveness, we don't have a very good evidence base for what works, when and why. DLP will soon publish an analytical framework to help build a more systematic evidence base on politically informed programming.
- Operational gaps between PEA and frontline working, programming and implementing. For too many staff PEA is something that is done by outside specialists and exists in long and detailed analytical documents; it is not a process woven into everyday practice. Analysis is rarely linked into strategy and is not always aimed at the right level.
- Conceptual gaps: most PEA tools seriously underplay the role of ideas and the complexity of power.
Their suggestions include the following:
- Check whether or not there are easy ways for senior managers to rethink business practices to create space for learning on political analysis.
- Encourage project/programme actors to better build learning on 'thinking and working politically' into their work and then make this publicly available for others to learn from.
- Work on finding 'everyday political analysis' tools/processes that help to building thinking and working politically into normal working practices, particularly at the frontline.
- Stop trying to fit 'politics' into one analytical framework/approach. There are lots of ways to analyse politics beyond institutionalism, and some of these may resonate better with different audiences.