The Africa Power and Politics Programme aims to use empirical research to build a body of middle-range, policy-relevant theory about governance and development. This paper is about what that it likely to entail. It responds to previous contributions which have argued for an exploratory approach using the concept of ‘practical norms’ and for greater use of perspectives from the public choice tradition. With examples from the fields of traffic regulation, road maintenance, forest conservation, urban public services, maternal health and higher education, it argues that contextually modified game-theoretic concepts can help explain better and worse development outcomes in a way that the concept of practical norms, by itself, cannot. This suggests a strategy for the APPP which combines pre-fieldwork theoretical reflection with intense periods of empirical observation, analytical modelling, and cross-case comparative theory building.
London, UK, Africa Power and Politics Programme (APPP), 23 pp. Available in English and French