Political economy analysis: investigating the success or failure of public policy

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Participants scheduled one-on-one consultations with course facilitators on individual research projects

This professional development course is designed to introduce participants to contemporary Political Economy Analysis (PEA) and the research methods that can help them practise it.  It is based on the premise that public policies imply the [re]distribution of economic resources, creating winners and losers and thus the likelihood of struggles.  PEA seeks to explain how the success or failure of public policy depends on the outcome of the struggles.

Thirty researchers and academics from ten African countries and various disciplines were in Nairobi from October 12-16, 2015.  They spent five intense days engaging facilitators and each other on how PEA can be used to address a wide range of research questions.

Before the face-to-face sessions, the successful applicants used an online platform to reflect on essential readings and review each other’s proposed research topics.  Each person then refined his or her proposal during the five days in Nairobi.

After an introduction to PEA and applicable research methods, participants were involved in group discussions and practical work on their own proposals.  Real life case studies from Kenya were used to illustrate key points.

‘Being new to PEA, I found that the facilitators made what I felt was complex material very simple and understandable.  I had tried to learn about PEA by reading the literature,’ noted one participant.  ‘This course was a good infusion of empirical, theoretical and analytical perspectives.  I wish it were a little longer,’ remarked another.  Towards the end of the course, participants had one-on-one sessions with the facilitators to discuss their individual project.

Apart from the course content, which participants commended as useful and relevant, the group also appreciated the opportunity to network with their peers and facilitators.  ‘I have made many friends from around the continent; I hope we can work together in future,’ commented a participant.  Each participant had a chance to consult the facilitators on their individual research project.

The course has been developed by PASGR in collaboration with regional and international scholars.  The facilitators included Tim Kelsall (ODI), Frederick Golooba-Mutebi (independent researcher) and Daniel Doh (University of Ghana).  One participant stated that he found the teaching inspirational; ‘it made things like ‘typologies’ interesting’.

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