Discussion Papers

No.845 Political Settlements Research on Sub-Saharan Africa: A Conceptual Framework and Causal Mechanism

by Machiko Tsubura

March 2022


This paper examines the origin and development of the political settlements framework and its application to studies of African countries that have employed it. The study aims to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the political settlements framework with a particular focus on Khan’s (2010) causal mechanism and the ways in which it has been employed in case studies. The paper suggests that some factors that are excluded from Khan’s (2010) framework but that affect institutional outcomes (e.g., the capacity of state bureaucracies, national leaders) also be examined in the empirical analyses. It also points to the incompatibility between Khan’s (2010) framework and democratic institutions. While his framework has been applied to African studies in various ways, some that have highlighted the differences in institutional outcomes across sectors seem to have shifted away from Khan’s (2010) causal mechanism on institutional outcomes at the national level. The latest development of the Political Settlements Dataset (Shulz and Kelsall 2021) will potentially reposition Khan’s causal mechanism at the center of political settlements research and strengthen its validity.

Keywords: political settlements

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