This paper presents the theoretical and methodological framework of a joint research project by Lise Rakner and Tor Skålnes, "Political Liberalisation and Economic reform in Southern Africa". The project consists of two separate studies. Lise Rakner analyses the interconnections between political and economic liberalisation in Zambia between 1991 and 1996. Tor Skålnes examines the politics leading to the establishment in South Africa of NEDLAC, a corporatist body with representatives drawn from unions, business organisations and the government. The two research projects share a theoretical and methodological framework. In the first section, we briefly discuss some major theoretical issues raised by these cross-national studies. In the second and third sections, we present the tentative results of the two research projects. The fourth section is devoted a discussion of our choice of design and method. The paper was presented at a conference organised by the Norwegian Research Council at Leankollen in November 1995.