Briefing Note Series

Briefing Note Series – Issue 5:

Applying Political Economy Thinking to Sector Programming

By Matilda Nash, Lavinia Tyrrel, and Graham Teskey

This brief summarises how the Abt Associates Governance and Development Practice (GDP) has applied Political Economy Approaches (PEA) to education and health sector programming in 13 countries in Asia, the Pacific and Africa; and the key findings from these undertakings.

Briefing Note Series – Issue 4:
Building bridges between research, evidence and development practice – are we there yet?
By Lavinia Tyrrel and Priya Chattier

This brief examines common challenges and opportunities that development practitioners face when trying to use research and evidence to inform aid policy and programming. Attention is paid to the organisational and institutional drivers, incentives and ways of working (including agency and collective action) which prevent or enable greater use of research. We also examine an instance where a program (Investing in Women) has been able to use research and evidence effectively to improve decisions regarding budgets, activities, strategy and design. The note concludes with a series of messages for development practitioners and policy makers on how to strategically and substantially invest in research for development impact.

Evidence is this note is drawn from a survey conducted with 80 staff from across four high profile Australian aid projects in the Asia-Pacific, as well as a small number of semi-structured interviews held with senior managers from these programs. This work was undertaken as part of an action research project called ‘Enhancing Research Use in International Development’.

Thirteen organisations – including Abt Associates – are being supported to understand both the nature of the problem (why it is hard to uptake research in programming) and develop ways to promote greater use of research in aid policy and programming.

Briefing Note Series – Issues 2 and 3
By the Papua New Guinea Decentralisation and Citizen Participation Partnership
(DCPP)

In development circles around the world, scholars and practitioners have increasingly recognised that development is an inherently political process. This thinking – expressed in the Thinking Working Politically (TWP), Problem Driven Iterative Adaptation (PDIA) and Doing Development Differently (DDD) communities of practice – has typically focused on examples from Asia and Africa, with the Pacific receiving scant attention. However, some of the most intractable policy problems can be found in Papua New Guinea (PNG), where highly diverse ethnic groups jostle for power and resources. It is in this contested, fluid and highly politicised space that this briefing notes series focuses – on the work of the Decentralisation and Citizen Participation Partnership (DCPP). 

In partnership with the Government of Australia, DCPP supports the Government of PNG to deliver services and economic opportunities at the sub-national level through an improved system of decentralised government. Because decentralisation in PNG is an arena of contestation, it can be described as a complex program working in a complex context, where the relationship between cause and effect is hard to predict. In PNG, the constant tension between recentralising and decentralising of authority and resources manifests in two policy narratives: one which seeks to give greater autonomy to provinces, and one which questions the capacity of subnational organisations to meet the required responsibilities of decentralisation.

This briefing note series introduces the DCPP program, and explores the innovative ways it works in this complex and contested space to achieve better service delivery outcomes.

Briefing Note – Issue 1 – #1 Program history and political change – Final

Briefing Note – Issue 2 – #2 Theory of Change – Final

Briefing Note Series – Issue 1:

‘Operationalising ‘Thinking and Working Politically’ in Facilities: KOMPAK Case Study’

By Lavinia Tyrrel and the KOMPAK Program/ Emma Piper.

This set of briefs, the first in Abt Associates’ Governance Briefing Note Series, summarises how the company is testing and applying a ‘Thinking and Working politically’ (TWP) in its international aid programs – using the example of the Australian Government-funded KOMPAK program in Indonesia.

While many development actors are increasingly thinking politically, there is scant evidence yet regarding the practice and implications of working politically – especially in Facility-style mechanisms. This brief, and its associated How To notes, discuss and share how the KOMPAK team have been ‘learning to do TWP’. While the approach is still being developed, tested and rolled-out by KOMPAK, it is hoped that these early lessons and tools will add to the international body of knowledge on what it actually takes to implement a TWP approach in large, multi-sector, Facilities.

Briefing Note Issue 1 – Abt’s Approach to TWP in KOMPAK

How to Note #1 – What is TWP

How to Note #2 – Why and How Does KOMPAK Apply TWP

How to Note #3 – TWP ‘Tools’

How to Note #4 – Defining the Problem

How to Note #5 – Actor and Institutional Analysis

How to Note #6 – Political Strategies for Action

How to Note #7 – Review and Reflection