Governance, Power and Participation

Our research on governance, power relations, participation and citizen engagement, informs change processes in pursuit of social justice and social change. With power and politics central to our analysis, we support the generation of new evidence that contributes to improved processes for good governance, citizen engagement, empowerment and accountability.

We pioneer new ways of working with governments, communities, activists and academics, to understand the complex relationships and processes that exist across states, markets, and citizens, and between formal and informal institutions, to tackle issues such as digital inequalities, women’s participation and empowerment, decentralisation and local governance, rapid urbanisation, migration, taxation and domestic resource mobilisation, food security and hunger and nutrition. These draw on our extensive expertise in complex approaches to how change happens.  Through our research and policy partnerships we are also bringing new insights on the role that rising powers and emerging economies such as China and Brazil have in relation to global governance and tackling development challenges such as sustainability and poverty.  Our world-renown participatory research has a particular emphasis on systematic social exclusion facing women, people living in extreme poverty, people with disabilities, slaves bonded labourers, indigenous peoples and others. We advance cutting edge methodological development in action research, participatory visual methods, participatory mapping, participatory statistics, participatory Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL) amongst others.

Programmes and centres



Capitalisation of SDC Experiences in Roma Social Inclusion

Jo Howard is working with SDC to capitalise experiences in Roma social inclusion by drawing broad conclusions from past SDC experiences in promoting Roma social inclusion and making them easily accessible for decision makers. Furthermore, she will produce a synthesis paper with main findings and lessons from the Roma inclusion seminar series.


PROKAS Participatory Action Research

In this consultancy, Danny Burns has been commissioned by the British Council to ensure high quality in the Participatory Action Research processes being applied by PROKAS and to ensure that academia is able to feed into and learn from the PROKAS approach for bringing about policy change.

Recent work

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IDS alum Ahmed Shide appointed Ethiopia’s Finance Minister

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has appointed IDS alum Ahmed Shide as Finance Minister.   Ahmed Shide previously served as deputy minister of finance and government spokesman. He will be tasked with fulfilling Ethiopia's ambitions as an export...

19 October 2018


Revenue Sharing in Mining in Africa: Empirical Proxies and Determinants of Government Take

Published by IDS

Revenues from mining constitute a significant development opportunity, particularly in income-poor but resource-rich countries in Africa. However, there is limited knowledge regarding the extent to which such countries have benefitted from the recent global mineral boom from 2003-2013. This paper finds existing approaches to testing rent theory to be a complicated basis for the assessment of resource revenue sharing between government and companies.

19 September 2018


Authoritarian populism is on the rise, claiming support from rural areas.

A new resource hosted by OpenDemocracy explores how authoritarian populism has taken hold, and how rural people are responding to it. A series of videos and articles features perspectives from scholars and activists from around the world. Authoritarian populism. Illustration: Boy...

18 September 2018


Tax in Development – Towards a Strategic Aid Approach

Published by IDS

The paper represents a step in the direction of thinking systematically about tax related aid efforts from a poverty and development perspective of an aid agency. It sets out a multi-tiered framework of some key indicators to enable a first ranking exercise for mostlow- and low-middle income...

7 September 2018


Regulatory Burdens in Tax Administration and Firms’ Compliance Costs in Africa

Published by ICTD and IDS

This paper examines the effect of regulatory burdens related to tax administration on firms’ compliance costs in Africa. Using cross-country firm-level data, the results show that regulatory burdens related to tax administration significantly increase firms’ compliance costs compared to burdens related to other kinds of government regulations.

5 September 2018


Why is Tax Education Important for Compliance?

Published by IDS

This ICTD Research in Brief is a two-page summary of ICTD African Tax Administration paper 1 by Giulia Mascagni and Fabrizio Santoro. This series is aimed at policy makers, tax administrators, fellow researchers and anyone else who is big on interest and short on time. Knowledge about tax can...

21 August 2018


Chapter 5: A Corporate Tax Policy Agenda for Lower-Income Countries

In the preceding four chapters of this book, I have sought to explore (i) the economic and political roots of base erosion and profit shifting in lower-income countries and (ii) the recent (and continuing) efforts of the OECD and other international organizations to redress the problem, in...

20 August 2018