The Australian Aid Program has a strong interest in development issues in the Pacific. Though traditionally it has taken a rather technical, administrative and managerial approach to such issues, its recent public literature (and that of other aid agencies) reflects the green shoots of important new thinking around the importance of political and governance processes that can decisively promote or restrain development – and hence a more effective use of aid resources.
But to what extent has the focus of recent academic and policy research addressed these issues and thus helped to provide a deeper, systematic and more fine-grained understanding of the politics that inescapably underpin the forms and quality of governance practices in the different countries in the region?
This DLP Background Paper provides a short survey of the literature in the field and an assessment of the extent to which such research and policy announcements have really helped to provide and institutionalise a more politically informed understanding of development. It concludes by suggesting some new areas, issues and questions that need to be confronted in order for ways of thinking and working politically to be more deeply embedded in the processes and practices of aid agencies, particularly those with a strong Pacific interest.