Alex Duncan works on the political economy of public policies, institutional reforms and the management of international aid. He has had a particular long-term interest in eastern and southern Africa. His earlier work was largely on agriculture and rural development, and during the 1990s, he was closely involved in agriculture and land reforms in South Africa. In recent years working visits have included Rwanda, Nigeria, Kenya, Zambia, South Africa, Bangladesh, India, and Yemen. He is a trustee of Save the Children UK.
Since 2002 he has been closely involved with international development agencies in introducing political economy analysis as an integral part of the way in which they analyse problems, define strategies and implement programmes. This has involved: developing analytical frameworks; applying these to studies in various countries and sectors, and to common development problems; and teaching and training for analysts and public officials. In recent years, subjects he has studied include the political economy of governance, economic growth, public expenditure management, and strengthening the private sector and the functioning of markets. He has also been closely involved with initial thinking on the ‘Making markets work for poor people’ approach to development.