Inside the Political Mind

The Human Side of Politics and How It Shapes Development

November 2023 9781805260516 352pp
Forthcoming Pre-order
Available as an eBook
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This book examines why political behaviour in developing countries so often deviates from outsiders’ expectations—and not for the reasons you might think. Analysis of developing countries tends to be preoccupied with the seedier aspects of politics, finding explanations for lack of progress in vote-buying, clientelism and naked self-interest. But this ignores the question of why politicians, as people, do what they do. 

Drawing on the experiences of hundreds of MPs in some of the world’s most complex environments, Greg Power explores their personal motivations and daily pressures in filling the gaps left by failing states. In countries as diverse as Iraq, Nepal, Ukraine and Tanzania, he shows how institutions work within highly informal political cultures, driven by public expectations, social norms, reciprocity and altruism. He reveals that development is determined as much by MPs’ foibles and preferences as by the wider battle for power. 

Combining insights from political science, behavioural economics and business management, Power argues for a more human approach to political reform—one that starts with individuals, not institutions. His fascinating book shines new light on how politics works from the inside, and why the human element is central to making change happen where it really matters.


Greg Power OBE, previously a special adviser to UK Ministers Robin Cook and Peter Hain, has been involved in constitutional and democratic change since the mid-1990s. Since 2005, his organisation, Global Partners Governance Practice, has helped to strengthen political systems in over sixty countries, including Iraq, Malawi, Ukraine and Sudan.

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