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What makes for the best analysis? Solid, contextual knowledge based on years of fieldwork and experience.

When the Ministry of Foreign Affairs wanted information to strengthen their understanding of political, economic and social power structures and actors in their focus countries, they commissioned a number of political-economy analyses of the main partner countries for Norwegian development cooperation. CMI has made four of a total number of ten analyses coordinated by NUPI: Political-economy analyses of Afghanistan, Malawi, Mozambique and Nepal, all core-countries for CMI.

Magnus Hatlebakk, senior researcher at CMI, has carried out the Nepal-analysis. He has extensive experience from Nepal through prolonged fieldwork and close cooperation with research partners in the country. Hatlebakk argues that years of experience working in a country is the best guarantee for a solid analysis.

In the early years of CMI, researchers were required to spend at least six months each year in developing countries. Of course, times have changed, and researchers no longer face a six month requirement. But extensive fieldwork and close cooperation with partners in the global South is still a core value at CMI.

-You cannot perform a solid political-economy analysis of any country without extensive experience, which basically means working in a country over time. Strong contextual knowledge is the best guarantee for providing relevant information, says Hatlebakk.

- Over the years you learn what the local population find important, you learn more about underlying power structures in the society, and you have time to conduct your own research in collaboration with local colleagues to further disentangle some of those structures. As an outsider you may also bring in new perspectives to the analysis of the local political economy, and ultimately to the development of policy.

The aim of the political-economy analyses is to increase the quality and effectiveness of Norwegian development cooperation.