Making Politics Practical II: Development Politics and the Changing Aid Environment

Michael Tippet Meeting Room in Staff House
Friday 15th November 2013 (09:00-17:30)
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Dr Heather Marquette ( or Dr. Jewellord T. Nem Singh (

Joint PSA Development Politics Group/International Development Department (IDD), University of Birmingham Workshop


9:00 Registration/coffee

(Heather Marquette, University of Birmingham & Jojo Nem Singh, University of Sheffield)

Key Note Speaker: Alan Whaites, OECD


Panel 1: 'Thinking Politically'
(Chair: Jonathan Fisher, University of Birmingham)

David Hulme & Pablo Yanguas (University of Manchester) 'Principle and Practice in Political Economic Analysis: A Comparative Study of DfID and the World Bank in Ghana'

Verena Fritz (World Bank) 'Integrating Political Economy Analysis into World Bank Work: Emerging Lessons'

David Hudson (UCL) 'Political Economy Analysis and the Power of Incentives: A Critique'

Caroline Hughes (Bradford University) and Jane Hutchison (Murdoch University) 'Poor People’s Politics: Policy and Practice Implications for Donors'

12:00 Lunch

Panel 2: 'Working Politically'
(Chair: Richard Batley, University of Birmingham)

Daniela Bressa Florentin (University of Bath) ‘The Political Process of Buen Vivir: Contentious Politics in Contemporary Ecuador’

Sumir Lal (World Bank) ‘Feasibility of Reforming Mumbai’s Public Transport Management’

Alina Rocha Menocal (ODI) & Tam O’Neil (Independent Researcher) ‘Parliamentary Development Assistance: Fixing the Car or Engaging with the Driver?’

Daniel Harris (ODI), Claire Mcloughlin (GSDRC/University of Birmingham) & Leni Wild (ODI) ‘The technical is political: Working through the politics of service delivery’

14:30 Coffee

Panel 3: 'Whose Voice? The Politics of Knowledge Production on Politics and Aid'
(Chair: Danielle Beswick, University of Birmingham)

James Copestake (University of Bath), Susan Johnson (University of Bath) & Richard Williams (Oxford Policy Management) ‘Policy Engagement in Pursuit of Financial Inclusion: Processes and Outcomes of Development Consultancy’

Wil Hout & Rosalba Icaza (Erasmus University) ‘The (Re)politicization of International Development Assistance and the Geopolitics of Knowledge Generation’

Nicolas Lemay-Hebert (University of Birmingham) & Xavier Mathieu (University of Sheffield) ‘The OECD’s Discourse on Fragile States: Expertise, Policy Prescription and the Normalisation of Knowledge Production’

Teddy Brett (LSE) ‘Aid Dependence, Conditionality and Democratisation: The Role of Pro-Poor Organisational Systems’


Mark Robinson (DFID, tbc) 'Governance, Politics and Aid: Lessons from DFID'

Discussant: Sam Hickey, ESID/IDPM

17:00 - 17:30 Closing/Agenda for Future Research

Please note that IDD is hosting the DSA Annual Conference on the following day; participants in this event are welcome to stay and join us.

In January 2007, the PSA Development Politics group and the International Development Department, University of Birmingham co-hosted a workshop on ‘Making Politics Practical’. That event explored how widespread changes within the aid environment, brought about in no small part thanks to the emphasis on governance, opened up space for political scientists to engage with policy makers on the politics of development.

Over five years later, we are reminded everywhere we turn about how central ‘getting politics right’ is for ensuring developmental success. This is particularly the case when it comes to the donor agenda on state-building and fragile states, but also in other areas, such as service delivery, local governance, security sector reform, aid effectiveness and so on. The rise of political analysis tools – discussed in many ways for the first time with an academic audience at the 2007 workshop – has burgeoned into a large industry, which is only now being critically examined by the academic community and where there is a considerable potential research agenda. Finally, in the UK the growing emphasis on evidence and value for money raises significant questions for the future of aid, and the academic community has a great deal to add to this.

The number of academics working in this area has exploded since 2007; however, political scientists continue to have a reputation – deserved or otherwise - for asking lots of questions, but hardly ever seeking solutions; for rarely moving beyond criticism into work that can actually help improve donor practice. This workshop - which will be held at the University of Birmingham and co-hosted between IDD and the PSA Development Politics Group - thus takes the 2007 event forward and explores the ‘(re)politicisation’ of development studies and the need for constructive, rather than merely critical, engagement with policy makers.

Further information