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Accepted Contribution:

Normative challenges in bridging research and practice on the political economy of conflict  
Gelila Enbaye (Global Public Policy Institute) Jakob Hensing (Global Public Policy Institute (GPPi))

Contribution short abstract:

Our contribution discusses normative challenges in a project developing an applied tool for political economy analysis and the assessment of options for external intervention. We critically reflect on simplification, a “problem-solving” outlook and our role as “outsiders” to the given context.

Contribution long abstract:

Our contribution identifies normative challenges that may arise in efforts to translate research findings on violent conflict into recommendations for Western policy practitioners, and develops positions on how these challenges can be ethically navigated. It reflects on the authors’ work on an ongoing project at the Global Public Policy Institute (GPPi), a Berlin-based think tank, with funding from and in collaboration with the German Foreign Office. The project develops a practice-oriented tool for understanding political economy dynamics in a given conflict and for assessing potential measures to externally influence those (ranging from reward-oriented strategies such as peace-positive investment and conflict-sensitive foreign aid to economically coercive tools like targeted sanctions and regulatory instruments in the resource sector). While it aims to create a generic tool that can be applied across various contexts to anticipate the prospects of such interventions and potential unintended consequences, the project engages with a concrete conflict on the African continent as a sample case. Therefore, it is embedded into a process of knowledge-translation by researchers for policymakers and seeks to reconcile demands from both perspectives. Considering especially the risk of reproducing dominant conflict narratives, our contribution discusses the tension between the complexity of any conflict setting and the simplification required to make dynamics accessible to often generalist practitioners. Additionally, we will address potential concerns arising from the project’s deliberately “problem solving”-oriented approach and our role as “outsiders” to the conflict under scrutiny with also limited possibilities for field research and immersion into the local context.

Panel Poli41
Research and war: methodological challenges, ethical dilemmas, and political implications
  Session 1 Wednesday 31 May, 2023, -