Working with the political dimensions of capacity development and governance: applying political stakeholder analysis

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Denmark has in recent years sought to strengthen its attention to governance and “political economy” issues in relation to Danish sector programme support. This is based on the recognition that development is a political as much as a technical process: reforms, change and capacity development all generates winners and losers, and prevailing power and incentive structures determine what can be achieved and what cannot. One of the key elements of the Danish public sector strategy “Effective and Accountable Public Sector Management – Strategic Priorities” from June 2007 is therefore to strengthen political-economy and incentive analysis in the preparation of new programmes. 

By now, the debate has moved beyond the need to explain that “politics” matter in development. Despite the momentum around political-economy, translating analysis into operational recommendations remains a challenge. It is therefore critical that development partners understand the “politics of reform” in a manner that goes substantially beyond the overused and vague indicator of “political will”. The priority is now to find appropriate tools and approaches to build the issue into policies and programmes.

To this end, Denmark commissioned a test of a set of specific tools for stakeholder analysis. The test used three operational entry points in Ethiopia, Bolivia and Benin to gather practical experience with approaches to stakeholder analysis (see Annex 1 for more details). This report includes three discrete outputs structuring the flow of the report:

  • A brief review of existing approaches to and formats for political stakeholder analysis at the sector level
  • A framework for stakeholder analysis at the sector level, building on already existing approaches, revised according to the field experiences. This section (p. 10f.) can be read independently as a guideline.
  • An analysis of what worked well and what worked less well in the field test of existing approaches (Annex 1)

The report does not provide a framework for political-economy analysis in itself. Rather it addresses how the findings of a political-economy analysis can feed into a stakeholder assessment. As such, this report could be read in conjunction with the World Bank’s framework for political-economy “Problem-driven Governance and Political Economy Analysis – Good Practice Framework”.

Text above is from the introduction to the report.  The complete report is available from Danida.