Political Economy for Practitioners

Over the last years, Political Economy (PE) has become a key analytical approach in development practice. Against this background, the demand for introductory, practice-oriented trainings on PE with relevance for day-to-day work of practitioners is also increasing. Several donors (Switzerland, Austria, Belgium, Luxembourg and the World Bank Institute amongst others) have expressed their interest in such a course given the increasing demand within their organizations for practice-oriented trainings in this field. These donors were willing to join forces and expertise with other development partners to organize suitable training courses and to exchange experiences.

In order to meet this new and growing demand, an Expert Group on ‘Political Economy for Practitioners’ (PEP) has been established in 2012 within the Learn4Dev network with the task of building on existing course contents on PE and adjusting them towards the specific requirements of development practitioners. Our main goal is the demand-driven preparation and facilitation of Joint Learning Events on PE that fill the gap and meet the increasing demand for trainings in this field.


In recent years an increasing number of organizations involved in International Development Cooperation started to apply a Political Economy (PE) perspective within their analytical and operational work. Such a PE perspective enhances the understanding of the presence/absence of development-oriented reforms in partner countries and the way development partners can most effectively facilitate the successful implementation of these reforms. The PE perspective seeks to unbundle the “political will” – or lack thereof – for reforms or change processes by looking at formal and informal institutions, incentives as well as the influence of different actors in development/change processes. It seeks to find out why things work the way they do or why not – in order to provide answers for development partners how they can support reforms more effectively.


To provide development practitioners with an action-oriented introduction to the key elements of Political Economy Analysis (PEA) and possible actions/responses to enable them to make development cooperation more effective as well as more politically sensitive.

Learning offer

1. Joint Learning Events (JLE): The Joint Learning Events build on available knowledge, expertise and lessons learned of different development partners, while integrating a PE perspective in all aspects of development processes and cooperation. The course we designed focuses on how development practitioners can benefit from applying such a perspective at all stages of the project cycle, and gives an overview on different tools developed by different agencies for specific purposes (e.g. Drivers of Change Approach, Strategic Corruption and Governance Analysis, Power Analysis amongst others). The course uses case studies from different organizations, sectors and regions to illustrate the relevance and added value of the PE perspective.

The overall learning objective of the course is the following: Participants have deepened their understanding of the Political Economy of change towards sustainable development, are familiar with practice-oriented approaches to PEA and have identified concrete entry points for applying a PE perspective in their daily work.

The 3-day learning event comprises three units:

PEP graphic 1

“Success story”

Main project

The Expert Group together with the Secretariat successfully designed a three-day-Joint Learning Event „Political Economy for Practitioners” (PEP) and prepared the respective teaching and learning material.

How will we implement the learning event?

Members of the Expert Group and other interested development partners can host a learning event (course) in their own country or a partner country. Hosting implies the invitation of participants from the Expert Group members and the provision of logistical support (especially organisation of the venue) for the event.

If you have interest in hosting an event, please get in touch with the Secretariat. Each of the learning events will be facilitated by two international facilitators, who will prepare the respective event in close coordination with the host agency, the Chair and the Secretariat of the Expert Group so as to meet particular interests and demands of host and participants of each event.

Expected learning outcomes of the three-day-Learning Event „Political Economy for Practitioners” (PEP)


For an overview of the learning event please download the Handout on our event in June 2014 as well as the general outline of the PEP event (as of May 2014)

For questions and further information please contact:

PEP Chair and contact person:
Waltraud Rabitsch (ADA)

Upcoming events: Expert group objectives and activities planned for 2014-2015

Joint Learning Events: The first JLE on PEP took place in The Hague, June 24th to 26th 2014. Based on demand (and available hosting), two further events in Europe and/or in partner countries are planned for 2014.

First hand impressions

Joint learning event: “Political Economy for Practitioners” (PEP) The Hague, June 24-26, 2014

Den Haag PEP Course June 24-26, 2014