Everyday political analysis

This short note introduces a stripped-back political analysis framework designed to help frontline development practitioners make quick but politically-informed decisions. It aims to complement more in-depth political analysis by helping programming staff to develop the 'craft' of political thinking in a way that fits their everyday working practices.

Everyday Political Analysis involves two steps:

  1. Understanding interests: What makes people tick?
  2. Understanding change: What space and capacity do people have to effect change?

For each step five questions, accompanied by prompts, aim to help staff to conduct quick political analysis. The EPA framework can be used at any stage of the aid management cycle, and can help users to respond rapidly to unexpected change.

We are keen to hear back from people on their experience of using EPA to help us adapt the framework. Was it useful (or not)? Do people tend to use just one or both steps? Are there missing statements or prompts that would improve the analysis? Please email us at info [at] dlprog.org.

Researchers: David Hudson, Heather Marquette and Sam Waldock (DFID Rwanda)

This project builds on work by David Hudson and Adrian Leftwich: From political economy to political analysis

See also:

Related items

What's in a name? Leadership as more than the 'big men' and 'big women' of history

When most people hear the term leadership, they think of 'The Leader', of the powerful CEO or the strong President (also, most likely, a man). This may be in part because the body of research into leadership is overwhelmingly dominated by the fields of business or organisational psychology. Or because the processes of leadership are often conflated with the actions or vision of a single leader.

Opinion by Heather Lyne de Ver 11th February 2014
Opinion by Alina Rocha Menocal 29th March 2016

DLP political settlements workshop: reflections

Serendipity, perhaps. I joined the Political Settlements Research Programme at the beginning of June; my first formal engagement was on June 17, at the Political Settlements Workshop organised by the Developmental Leadership Program. It was quite an induction day.

Opinion by Astrid Jamar 22nd July 2015

When the stars align to tackle inequality: reflections on the DLP annual conference

From the Occupy Movement to Thomas Piketty to current proposals for a new set of Sustainable Development Goals, inequality has emerged as one of the most intractable challenges of our time, and everyone, from activists to academics to policymakers, is talking about it. 

Opinion by Alina Rocha Menocal 18th February 2015
Opinion by Alina Rocha Menocal 26th April 2016

Politics, risk and development: three takeaways

Last week was a big one for the Australasian development community, particularly for those interested in the politics of development. The Australasian Aid Conference at the Australian National University (10-11 February) included a packed session on 'Putting political thinking into development practice'. And DLP’s Annual Conference at La Trobe University focused  on Power, Politics and Positive Deviance.

Opinion by Chris Roche 19th February 2016

Development cooperation and fighting corruption: thinking differently

Everyone associates Brazil with football and the World Cup. Brazilians pouring out onto the street last summer to protest the competition being hosted in their country was last thing many of us expected to see.

Opinion by Heather Marquette 24th June 2015

Different development: walk the talk

Spent the day at a ‘Doing Development Differently’ event recently and, while it offered a great opportunity to meet and hear from fascinating, dedicated, thoughtful people, I came away somewhat disheartened. Why? Because:

Opinion by Gillian Fletcher 14th April 2015

Gender analysis, and thinking and working politically – bridging the gap

Guest post on Devpolicy  introducing panels at this week's Australasian Aid Conference

Opinion by Chris Roche 14th February 2017

Security and justice – the mismatch between policy and practice

What hinders more politically nuanced security and justice programming?

Opinion by Shivit Bakrania 21st July 2014

Do donors have realistic expectations of their staff when it comes to 'thinking and working politically'?

Is learning to ‘think politically’ like learning a new language? 

Opinion by Heather Marquette 9th June 2014

Do anticorruption messages work? Findings so far and what they could mean for Papua New Guinea

Anticorruption posters and billboards are common sights around the world. Most anticorruption programs now include an awareness-raising element. The hope is that anticorruption messages – whether shared via posters, radio or TV, for example – will inspire citizens to refuse to pay bribes and to report any corruption they encounter.

Opinion by Caryn Peiffer 23rd March 2017

From functional governance to sustainable peace: Making the space to reflect, learn and adapt

Last month, UNDP co-hosted a Global Meeting in Jordan on supporting core government functions in fragile and conflict-affected settings. It brought together over 60 colleagues and practitioners from the UN system, World Bank, donors, and government representatives from around the world.

Opinion by Aditi Haté 22nd February 2017

Gender and power: six links and one big opportunity

Donors have recently made great efforts to understand power in partner countries. Yet they have largely ignored one of the most pervasive power relations – gender.

Opinion by Diana Koester 21st May 2015

What do we do on Monday? Political settlements in theory and practice

The political settlements framework can seem a distraction to some practitioners, many of whom have been thinking and working politically about development for a number of years. They find the term difficult to define with any precision and, in any case, quite unnecessary. In the real world, progress towards better understanding of and engagement with the political conditions which help and hinder development has been ticking along nicely, independently of the academic debates.

Opinion by Edward Laws 15th July 2015

'Sticky’ change: What international development can learn from adaptive management

One of the most significant failings of international political assistance has been the tendency to focus too much on institutional structure and process, and not enough on culture and behaviour.

Opinion by Greg Power 2nd December 2016

Two remarkable transitions: lessons from Oman and Somaliland

We tend to look through the political settlements lens only at places experiencing either conflict or deep poverty – or both. Yet we would know much more about how useful the lens is if we examined more successes with it. Areas of stability and calm, especially in regions where near neighbours seem to be struggling to resolve strife, might teach us something about how historical experiences do or don’t chime with contemporary donor practices.

Opinion by Sarah Phillips 20th July 2015

Identifying rebels with a cause (and effect)

The Developmental Leadership Program will host its 2016 Annual Conference at La Trobe University in Melbourne on 8 February. Its theme is ‘Power, Politics and Positive Deviance’.

Opinion by Chris Roche 1st December 2015

More room for politics in the inequality debate?

This month at DLP our focus is largely on corruption as we prepare for a collaborative event in London discussing 'Corruption and development'. Yet we could hardly fail to notice that inequality, a hot topic since Pikettymania and the theme of our conference earlier in the year, has resurfaced with a vengeance.

Opinion by David Hudson 24th June 2015

Taking the Results agenda to the next level?

On new book The Politics of Evidence and Results in International Development

Opinion by Chris Roche 15th July 2015

Overcoming premature evaluation

Guest post in From Poverty to Power

Opinion by Chris Roche 15th November 2016

Don't give up on government

The World Bank launched its flagship World Development Report (WDR) this week, which boldly redefines how governance and policy interact to yield good or bad development outcomes. People are rightly praising the report for rejecting best practicesembracing adaptation and endorsing a focus on politics.

Opinion by Dan Hymowitz 3rd February 2017

Inclusive political settlements: who and what gets included, and how?

DLP hosted a day-long high level introductory workshop on political settlements in June. This post is the first of a series inspired by the workshop and written by researchers, policymakers and practitioners. Here Alina Rocha Menocal discusses current research and thinking on the usefulness of a political settlements approach.

Opinion by Alina Rocha Menocal 13th July 2015

The practicalities of change - positive deviance and land reform in Vanuatu

This guest post by Anna Naupa draws on her Adrian Leftwich Memorial Lecture, presented at the DLP Annual Conference 2016: Power, Politics and Positive Deviance. It is the perspective of Anna Naupa and not that of any organisation with which she is, or has been, affiliated.

Opinion by Anna Naupa 13th April 2016

How does politically informed programming shape development outcomes?

Many well-intentioned development programmes founder in the face of resistance from entrenched elites who feel threatened by a potential loss of power and resources. Resources intended for the poor and disadvantaged benefit the rich and powerful. In response, development practitioners and academics have become keenly interested in the political factors that shape development outcomes over the past ten years.

Opinion by Mark Robinson 29th January 2016

Fragmentation of the Thinking and Working Politically agenda: Should we worry?

Recently, I’ve read many articles and heard from many colleagues who are concerned about the apparent competition between the Doing Development Differently (DDD) network and the Thinking and Working Politically (TWP) community of practice.

Opinion by Thomas Parks 29th August 2016

What's so 'African' about African leadership?

I'm often guilty of describing myself as an 'Africanist' even though my research focuses only on Rwanda and the eastern DRC.

When I teach courses on African security, I focus on the 'important states' – Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, and the 'significant conflicts' – Biafra, the Rwandan Genocide, Sierra Leone, Liberia, the Congo Wars, the Sudans and Darfur.

Opinion by Suda Perera 1st April 2014

Developmental leaders, 'dirty hands', and the dark side of collaboration

new analysis of poverty in India from the World Bank challenges claims that India's reforms and striking economic growth have failed to help the poor and disadvantaged. But the deprivation and inequalities in India (highlighted by Jean Drèze and Amartya Sen in An Uncertain Glory) are stark.

Opinion by Niheer Dasandi 11th December 2013

The politics of redistribution: we need you

Which are the key country cases? Help us shape new research.

Opinion by David Hudson 16th October 2014

Political settlements: people and the landscapes of power

The problem with politics is that it involves people, and people do strange things. When development actors engage with power they often prefer to iron out the unpredictability of real politics in favour of the much neater lines of trends and social groups. We revere drivers of change studies because we can cope with the long-term, identity-based analysis of `deep’ politics. 

Opinion by Alan Whaites 24th July 2015

Anthropology and elites: 'Studying up', politically

Some strikingly parallel questions are being asked in my own discipline of anthropology and by those examining how donors and practitioners can think and work politically with developing communities.

Opinion by Paul Robert Gilbert 10th March 2016

Connections, contradictions and the political economy of attention

How can we encourage creativity, even in risk-averse organisations? How can we protect our attention resources?

I listened to two interesting LSE podcasts recently which got me thinking more about creativity following on from a recent blog I posted about the current interest in innovation. Some even suggest the ‘innovation imperative’ is a mega trend.

Opinion by Chris Roche 7th May 2015

Indonesia and the political settlements trap

When your office is in Jakarta, you get a lot of time to day-dream in taxis while going from hotel to office and back again. I am just back from a couple of weeks working there and I marvelled at the traffic, the tech-savvy population and the profusion of swanky hotels. On one long journey I got to musing about the challenges facing Indonesia’s efforts to shift itself upwards in the World Bank’s country classification database.

Opinion by Graham Teskey 17th July 2015

Welcome to DLP's blog

Welcome to DLP's new blog on politics, power, policy and developmental leadership

Opinion by Heather Marquette 10th December 2013

Inequality – the politics behind the policies

Discussion starter for the #polinequality conference

Opinion by David Hudson 11th February 2015

Gender - the power relationship that Political Economy Analysis forgot?

It's easy to forget that 'gender' does not mean 'women' but actually means 'gender relations', or the relations between men and women. Gender analysis examines how power is distributed between women and men, how it operates, who can use it and for what purposes. It's best understood as a system which shapes everything around us – what we think, what we know, whose knowledge is privileged, and which values are supported.

Opinion by Evie Browne 13th February 2014

Parliamentary strengthening: the IDC report

Having presented evidence to the UK's International Development Committee, what of the final report?

Opinion by Tam O'Neil 9th February 2015
Opinion by Alina Rocha Menocal 24th November 2014

Uncounted: has the post-2015 data revolution failed already?

Counting matters. As the Stiglitz-Sen-Fitoussi report puts it: What we measure affects what we do; and if our measurements are flawed, decisions may be distorted…. [I]f metrics of performance are flawed, so too may be inferences we draw.

Opinion by Alex Cobham 12th May 2015

Adding gender and power to the TWP agenda

Thinking and Working Politically presents development to us as an endeavour embedded within power structures. This is so important.

It helps us see clearly that we need to understand domestic politics to deliver development outcomes. Who are the players? Who makes decisions? Who will stand to lose from a proposal and how can they block progress?

Opinion by Sally Moyle 6th August 2015

Medellin - more than a miracle

Bad news sells. And for news editors looking for horror stories to recycle, Colombia's second largest city used to be a reliable source.

Opinion by Cheryl Stonehouse 4th March 2014

Resources and reflections on gender and thinking and working politically

Next week's meeting of the Thinking and Working Politically Community of Practice will focus on gender at an opportune time. It follows a spate of interesting papers, blog posts and talks about the relationship between 'thinking and working politically' and gender issues. 

Opinion by Chris Roche 12th June 2015
Opinion by Heather Marquette 10th November 2014
Opinion by Orlanda Ward 7th March 2017

The road to transparency in resource-rich Myanmar

A large oil painting hangs in the formal reception room of Myanmar’s Ministry of Mines. A powerful and confident 19th century Burmese senior civil servant shows a pot full of rubies to a covetous foreign trader. Glowing at the centre of the pot is the Padamyar Ngamauk or the ‘royal ruby’—the massive and flawless ruby that was the pride of the royal treasury.

Opinion by Taylor Brown 1st April 2016

The curious case of Indian autocracy and what it tells us about 'thinking and working politically'

Today marks the fortieth anniversary of Indira Gandhi’s declaration of a national emergency in India, which led to an 18-month period of autocracy. Civil rights were suspended, political opponents and journalists were arrested without the right to trial, censorship was imposed, elections were cancelled, non-Congress state governments were dismissed, the constitution changed.

Opinion by Niheer Dasandi 25th June 2015

Climate change and adaptation in the Pacific Islands: watering down women's security?

Beyond 'adaptability'? In this guest post, Nicole George highlights the work of women leaders who are challenging a narrow adaptation agenda.

Opinion by Nicole George 7th March 2014

Innovation: transactional or transformative?

Innovation has become a popular word in international development. In Australia today, Bjorn Lomborg helped to formally open DFAT’s development innovation hub innovationXchange, which is designed to ‘identify, trial and scale up successful approaches’. Other donors, including the US and the UK, are also promoting innovation through initiatives like the Development Innovation Ventures programme.

Opinion by Chris Roche 23rd March 2015

Cancer and the links between medicine and development

Guest post for From Poverty to Power

Opinion by Chris Roche 15th April 2015

Political analysis as the practical art of the possible

Bringing politics back into PEA - a new paper with Adrian Leftwich

Opinion by David Hudson 24th July 2014

Politics shape services; and services shape politics

How governance and sector specialists can help each other understand the politics of service delivery

Opinion by Richard Batley 19th June 2014

International donors - aiding or abetting?

In September 2012, lawyers representing an Ethiopian farmer announced that they planned to sue the UK government for its role in human rights violations in Ethiopia. The farmer, named in court papers as “Mr O”, alleged that the Ethiopian government’s “villagisation” programme had involved the forced resettlement of thousands of families including his own.

Opinion by Niheer Dasandi 10th September 2015

Anti-corruption in Bolivia: fighting greed – or attitudes?

Unsurprisingly, when people are asked about corruption, they say they are against it. But that doesn’t tell us what they really think about it, or what they do when confronted with it.   

Opinion by Nieves Zúñiga 29th June 2015

About DLP

The Developmental Leadership Program (DLP) is an international research initiative that explores how leadership, power and political processes drive or block successful development.

DLP focuses on the crucial role of home-grown leaderships and coalitions in forging legitimate political settlements and institutions that promote developmental outcomes, such as sustainable growth, political stability and inclusive social development.

Find out more

News

Doing Development Differently workshop - Jakarta 2017

Thursday 30th March 2017

Putting the concept of Thinking and Working Politically into practice was at the heart of a workshop on 15-16 March attended by more than 200 delegates from the field of international development. Delegates from the government, civil service and local organisations of the host country, Indonesia, were joined by academics, including DLP researchers, and staff from donor organisations and NGOs.

Read more

DLP shares research at FCO Africa Study Day

Monday 27th March 2017

DLP findings on the Democratic Republic of Congo were among the topics discussed with with UK diplomats and civil servants at the FCO's Africa Study Day, held at Sandhurst on 21 March. This year's Foreign and Commonwealth Office event was organised by University of Birmingham's International Development Department, home to DLP.

Read more

Follow: @dlprog