Teachers and schools do not exist in isolation of the larger world
around them. Frequently, many of their actions – and the school outcomes
that they are accountable for – are influenced by incentives and
constraints operating outside the schooling system. Each of these
factors influences different aspects of education reform, whether policy
design, financing, implementation or evaluation. Given the importance of
these power relations in influencing student outcomes, there is
surprisingly little literature to guide us in making related policy
decisions. One reason is that examining these issues in the case of
education may not be amenable to a particular disciplinary lens and is
better served through an inter-disciplinary approach. A key contribution
of this review is to pull together the essential literature from various
disciplinary and interdisciplinary traditions and to provide a
conceptual framework in which to situate the analysis of political
economy issues in education research. Another contribution is to
carefully review the existing literature and identify research gaps in
The review is structured around the following five key themes and
- Roles and responsibilities: Who are the key stakeholders with an
interest in the sector? What are the interests and incentives faced by
different players? Has this varied over time?
- Rent-seeking and patronage politics: How significant is the extent of
rent-seeking and patronage politics in the education sector, and where
is it most prevalent? What does research tell us about the impact of
such behaviour on education reform and school outcomes?
- Decision-making and the process of influence: Who are all the
participants in the decision-making process regarding education
policies of different types? What is the identity of all those who
exert indirect pressure on the decision-making process? What are the
direct and indirect mechanisms available to different power groups to
exercise their power? What are the implications of this power play for
- Implementation issues: To what extent are policy reforms implemented
and what are the factors that facilitate and impede implementation?
- Driving forces: What political and economic conditions drive or
inhibit education reform, both in its formulation and implementation?
Kingdon, G.G.; Little, A.; Aslam, M.; Rawal, S.; Moe, T.; Patrinos, H.; Beteille, T.; Banerji, R.; Parton, B.; Sharma, S.K. A rigorous review of the political economy of education systems in developing countries. Education rigorous literature review. Department for International Development (DFID), London, UK (2014) iii + 79 pp.