Political settlements and the analysis of institutions

Research paper by Khan M.

Indexed on: 16 Oct '18Published on: 05 Dec '17Published in: African affairs


The political settlements framework argues that the distribution of organizational power is important for understanding the economic and political effects of institutions and policies. Institutions and policies describe rules that in turn determine resource allocation, and these can affect different types of organizations in very different ways. Organizations can be expected to support, resist or distort particular institutions or policies depending on their interests and capabilities. The distribution of organizational power can therefore determine the institutions and policies that are likely to persist as well as the ones most likely to be developmental in that context. This directs our attention to the importance of accurately identifying the relative power and capabilities of relevant organizations that describe a particular political settlement and how these may be changing over time. The articles in African Affairs that have used the political settlements framework demonstrate its usefulness. In this overview we examine the motivations behind the development of the framework and some of the challenges of applying it in the context of dynamic interactions between institutions and organizations. We also discuss the most appropriate definition of a political settlement, the questions the framework is most suited to answer and the challenges ahead for developing the framework and its applications.