Founded in 2002, the Working Group in African Political Economy (WGAPE – pronounced “wah-gah-pay”) is a network of researchers with deep field experience that meets regularly to provide structured feedback on in-progress (“working”) research papers related to the theme of African political economy. This includes topics such as civil conflict, decentralization and democratization, public economics, corruption, local governance, and other related issues on the continent. As WGAPE continues to grow, we are cognizant of persistent inequities in the production of scholarship about the political economy of Africa, and the value of cross-continental collaboration.
WGAPE fills a number of important, neglected gaps in both the production and dissemination of frontier research on the political economy of African development. By bringing together economists and political scientists, as well as graduate students and faculty, WGAPE promotes cross-fertilization of ideas in a manner that is increasingly rare in academia. Meetings feature discussions of in-progress research by faculty and graduate students in Economics, Political Science, and closely related disciplines. The emphasis is on deep discussion rather than presentation, which provides unparalleled opportunities for critical, constructive feedback.
WGAPE has expanded our network to include many more Africa-based scholars, which has allowed us to increase the intellectual breadth of the meetings, deepen learning for both African and non-African scholars, foster new collaborative relationships, and increase the policy impact of research presented at WGAPE meetings. WGAPE is hosted by CEGA and is co-led by Daniel Posner (Political Science, UCLA), Edward Miguel (Economics, UC Berkeley), Amanda Robinson (Political Science, Ohio State University), and Amma Panin (Economics, University of Louvain), and hosted by the Center for Effective Global Action (CEGA) at UC Berkeley.
WGAPE holds several meetings throughout the year, each typically attended by 25-40 people and featuring discussion of roughly seven in-progress works by African political economy scholars. WGAPE employs a unique conference format where all participants read the papers before the meeting, and during the hour allotted to each paper participants hold a roundtable discussion to offer constructive feedback to the offers. WGAPE actively seeks to build links between scholars of African political economy in the U.S. and Africa. Meetings often feature trainings in impact evaluation and research transparency for junior scholars and scholars from developing countries and matchmaking workshops to facilitate connections between these researchers and more senior scholars.
WGAPE holds an annual meeting every summer on the African continent to discuss in-progress work from scholars from across Africa, the U.S., Canada, Europe, and other regions. With generous funding from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, WGAPE brings six scholars affiliated with African institutions to attend each annual meeting. Several “regional” meetings are independently organized across the US to connect scholars in their respective areas of the country; CEGA organizes an annual West Coast regional meeting each fall.
Small Grant Competitions
WGAPE holds an annual Small Grant Program for junior African researchers to explore a question of interest in African political economy and development economics in sub-Saharan Africa, including civil conflict, decentralization and democratization, public economics, corruption, local governance, and applied microeconomics of development in Africa.
Successful applicants are matched with a senior researcher from the WGAPE organizers or executive committee, who provide feedback and general guidance on the project. Grantees present their research design and/or working papers at annual WGAPE meetings.
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