Interventions to fix market failures in infrastructure have often resulted in some form of governance failure and this contributes importantly to explain shortcomings in the supply of infrastructure services in developing countries and increasingly in developed countries in crisis. The development community continues to address sector dysfunctions from the sector level, often with a ‘one solution fits all’ approach, instead of approaching the political level, which is considered more challenging. This paper presents a systematic structured review of experiences with policy work in light of political economy explanations. Governance failures have different explanations – including populism, patronage, corruption or ownership shares in the private sector. This paper offers a structured framework for identifying the given governance challenge and discusses the need for more tailor-made approaches to sector-reform.