Political economy analysis in the security and justice sector

The Client

Working on behalf of a major OECD donor, this support was provided as a vital input to the Business Case for a major new programme of support in the Security and Justice Sector.

The Challenge

Political Economy Analysis (PEA) is concerned with the interaction of political and economic processes in a society: the distribution of power and wealth between different groups and individuals, and the processes that create, sustain and transform these relationships over time. PEA helps us to understand what drives political behaviour, how this shapes particular policies and programmes, who are the main “winners” and “losers”, and what the implications are for development strategies and programmes. The difficulty is getting at this vital information.

The challenge was to gather enough quality information to influence the design of the new programme and help identify feasible, realistic solutions to the development challenges. The report also intended to promote coherence of international interventions based around a common analysis of the underlying political and economic processes shaping the existing and future S&J programmes; enhance dialogue with the government around policy options for delivering improved reform, and; support risk management and scenario planning, by helping to identify the critical factors that are likely to drive or impede significant reform in the future.

The Solution

The PEA was based on the World Banks’ ‘problem driven framework’ for political economy analysis. It included a literature review (including government and donor reports and policy papers) and individual and group meetings. The approach and analytical framework focused on specific issues and challenges, and considered the interaction between structures, institutions, and agents, in order to generate operationally relevant findings and implications in a short time frame.

The Report tackled the political and security context, the impact of new ministerial appointments and their contiguous networks, affiliates and incentives. The issue of ancillary civil service reform was analysed and also the Public Financial Management challenges and the extent to which perverse disincentives to financial reforms exist. The report also reviewed internal and democratic oversight mechanisms, accountability and transparency, highlighting the limits on space for oversight, third party scrutiny, and internal oversight mechanisms.

The Result

This review concluded with a summary of key recommendations for the remainder of the existing support period plus 10 priority recommendations that would need to be addressed in a new programme. The report findings were fully incorporated into the new programme design.


Contact our expert with direct experience in this case study: Dr. Gregory Wilson.