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DECENTRALIZATION   Tags: decentralization  

Last Updated: Aug 25, 2015 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

Good Governance Print Page



Policy Papers & Briefs



Levi-Faur, David. The Oxford Handbook of Governance Edited. Oxford University Press, 2012. [Oxford University Press]

About: This handbook presents the core concepts and knowledge that have evolved in the study of governance in different levels and arenas of politics and policymaking. In doing so it establishes itself as the essential point of reference for all those studying politics, society, and economics from a governance perspective. The volume comprises fifty-two chapters from leaders in the field. The chapters are organized in nine sections dealing with topics that include governance as the reform of the state, democratic governance, European governance, and global governance.

GrindleMerilee S. Going LocalDecentralization, Democratization, and the Promise of Good Governance. Princeton University Press, 2009 [Google Books]

About: This book deals with the effects of decentralization on thirty Mexican municipalities. The author describes how local governments respond when they are assigned new responsibilities and resources under decentralization policies. She explains why decentralization leads to better local governments in some cases--and why it fails to in others.


Research Papers

Agrawal, Arun and Jesse Ribot. “Accountability in Decentralization A Framework with South Asian and West African Cases,” Journal of Developing Areas 33 (1999).

Summary: The article concludes, after analyzing four case studies, that the presumed benefits of decentralization become available to local populations only when empowered local actors are accountable to the local populations.  In addition these actors need to have control of the resources necessary to govern. Actors, powers, and accountability emerge as essential elements of a framework that can help evaluate the effectiveness of decentralization rather than looking through the traditional frameworks of political, fiscal and administrative decentralization. 

Crook, Richard. “Decentralisation and Good Governance," Forum of Federations (n/a).

Summary: This paper provides a broad overview by starting with theories of decentralization and then focusing on the different ways that decentralization can affect the responsiveness of government to its people at different administrative levels. It also analyzes the ways in which decentralization can address the problem of elite capture in government. In general, it may be concluded that although participation in decentralized and democratic forms of government can widen the scope or social basis of participation, it is still very hard for it to prevent existing local elites from capturing control of the new institutional power opportunities. 
Fan, C. Simon, Chen Lin, and David Treisman. “Political Decentralization and Corruption: Evidence from Around the World,” University of California (2008).
Summary: How does political decentralization affect the frequency and costliness of bribe-extraction by corrupt officials? Previous empirical studies, using subjective indexes of perceived corruption and mostly fiscal indicators of decentralization, have suggested conflicting conclusions. In search of more precise findings, we combine and explore two new data sources - an original cross-national data set on particular types of decentralization and the results of a firm level survey conducted in 80 countries about firms’ concrete experiences with bribery. In countries with a larger number of governmentor administrative tiers and (given local revenues) a larger number of local public employees, reported bribery was more frequent. When local - or central - governments received a larger share of GDP in revenue, bribery was less frequent. Overall, the results suggest the danger of uncoordinated rent-seeking as government structures become more complex.

Tirole, Jean. “The Internal Organization of Government,” Oxford Economic Papers 46 (1994): 1- 29. [Oxford Journals]

Summary: The paper discusses some specificities of the design of incentives in the public sector and their implications: multiplicity of goals, unclear weighing of these goals, and nonmeasurability of some of them; lack of comparison; heterogeneity of tastes and dispersion of principals. The paper then analyzes career concerns, associated with the prospect of reselection, promotion, or employment in the private sector, and articulated around some mission. There is a potential multiplicity of missions that can be followed by rational officials. The last part studies the division of labor within government, in particular division of labor among ministries and the use of multiple principals to control economic agents, and division of labor aimed at creating information for public decision making and the use of enfranchised advocates of specific interests.

Seabright, Paul. “Accountability and Decentralisation in Government: An Incomplete Contracts Model,” European-Economic-Review 40 (1996): 61-89. [Science Direct]
Summary: This paper approaches the question of the appropriate level of decentralisation of power in government as a problem in the allocation of control rights under incomplete contracts. The model of the paper compares allocations of power to local, central and regional government as alternative means of motivating governments to act in the interests of citizens. Centralisation allows benefits from policy coordination but has costs in terms of diminished accountability, which can be precisely defined as the reduced probability that the welfare of a given region can determine the re-election of the government.

"Participatory Development and Good Governance" Development Cooperation Guidelines Series OCDE, (1995)

Summary: It has become increasingly apparent that there is a vital connection between open, democratic and accountable systems of governance and respect for human rights, and the ability to achieve sustained economic and social development. Although these links are neither simple nor uniform, varying greatly from case to case and with respect to bottime and place, DAC Members believe that sustainable development requires a positive interaction between economic and political progress. This connection is so fundamental that participatory development and good governance must be central concerns in the allocation and design of development assistance.


The 12 Principles of Good Governance at Local Level. France: Council of Europe, 2013.

About: The principles of good democratic governance presented in this video form one of the three pillars of the Strategy for Innovation and Good Governance at Local Level. The Council of Europe adopted this strategy in 2008 to guide the functioning of local authorities and their relations with the citizens.

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