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Politics into practice: a dialogue on performance strategies and action in international development

Research report

Written by Leni Wild, Marta Foresti

Research report

In recent years, development organisations have made major investments in tools for applied political analysis, as well as in politics and governance research. As a result, evidence-based political insights are more available and better disseminated than ever before. Lessons from experience are also being more systematically reviewed and shared by practitioners in different countries. Yet uptake in the form of significant changes in policy and practice has been disappointing. Translating findings into changed practice is arguably the next big challenge for donor agencies as well as for a range of other international actors.

With this in mind, ODI’s Politics and Governance Programme hosted a policy dialogue event on 8-9 December 2010 to debate these issues, identify different aspects of the challenge and identify ways forward. The dialogue brought together policy makers, researchers and practitioners with an active interest in these issues. This report arises from that event. It builds on the discussions and reflects on some of the key areas of agreement and tension that emerged in the various sessions. It offers some recommendations on how to put into practice more of what we know about the importance of politics in development. It addresses three particular topics:

  • Progress being made in the use of applied political, or political economy, analysis;
  • Challenges to uptake posed by emerging research findings and evidence-based arguments; and
  • Incentives and disincentives to uptake both within development agencies and in the wider politics of aid.
Leni Wild and Marta Foresti