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Political analytical tool (PAT)

Aim of the tool
PAT helps you to deepen your understanding of a particular context in terms of the politics, the social and political structuring, and the historical context. It helps you to visualise political/power relationships in networks.

When to use it?
This software can be used on existing intervention processes where historical analysis is relevant. It is less suitable for participatory workshops, but it can help to validate the diagram made by participants.

How difficult is it to use it?
Easy – moderate – for experienced users/facilitators

Tool for thought or tool for action?
Tool for thought and for action

This tool provides timeline-based diagrams of leadership structures showing pressures and influences within the leadership framework.

Issues to be aware of
You need special software to use this tool

Description of the tool
This software tool helps you to visualise political relationships (coalitions, alliances, networks), see Examples. It has only been recently developed by the Developmental Leadership Program (DLP). It is a bespoke Flash Application.

PAT can map, in a visually engaging form, how agents within a given context interact, and how those interactions evolve over time to form various leaderships and coalitions working to build locally appropriate institutions, which promote or frustrate inclusive development.

The tool enables a user to draw timeline-based diagrams of leadership structures within countries or organisations and provides easily accessible information between the relationships showing pressures and influences within the leadership framework. Nodes representing events can be laid out in a timeline interface with interconnecting lines and a rich set of meta data associated with the nodes managed via a content management system (CMS) and written to a database.

Examples of “PAT” maps

Steps involved in using the tool
The tool first asks the ‘creator’ of the diagram to visualise a given context and, beginning with a blank ‘drawing board’, draw that visualisation and embed it in a depth of information about the agents, the relations and the context. Once completed, the diagrams hold a wealth of information about the nature, history and context of such leaderships and coalitions, providing a unique perspective and insight into how and under what circumstances they are formed.
In short, PAT is a diachronic tool that can be used to track changes in patterns of relations, networks, and coalition formation over time as they effect and are affected by the institutional, political and social context. It works at multiple levels, and can illustrate the relations of all kinds of agents: organisations, coalitions, groups, cadres, parties, or individuals.

It can also show the multiplicity of different relationships among agents, and does not need to do a separate analysis per relation. PAT therefore tries to illustrate and explain the complexity and variety of systems – looking at different types and levels of actors and relations.