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DECENTRALIZATION   Tags: decentralization  

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Political Decentralization Print Page



Policy Papers & Briefs



Treisman, Daniel. The Architecture of Government: Rethinking Political Decentralization. Cambridge University Press, 2007. [Cambridge]

About: This book re-examines the arguments that underlie the modern faith in decentralization. Using logical analysis and formal modeling, and appealing to numerous examples, it shows that most are based on vague intuitions or partial views that do not withstand scrutiny. A review of empirical studies of decentralization finds these as inconclusive and mutually contradictory as the theories they set out to test.

Negretto, Gabriel L. Making Constitutions: Presidents, Parties, and Institutional Choice in Latin America. Cambridge University Press, 2013. [Cambridge]

About: Based on a comprehensive analysis of constitutional change in Latin America from 1900 to 2008 and four detailed case studies, the author shows that the main determinants of constitutional choice are the past performance of constitutions in providing effective and legitimate instruments of government and the strategic interests of the actors who have influence over institutional selection.

Faguet, Jean-Paul. Decentralization and Popular Democracy: Governance from Below in Bolivia. University of Michigan Press, 2013. [Google Books]

About: Bolivia decentralized in an effort to deepen democracy, improve public services, and make government more accountable. Over the past generation, public investment shifted dramatically toward primary services and resource distribution became far more equitable. Many municipalities responded to decentralization with transparent, accountable government, yet others suffered ineptitude, corruption, or both. The author shows how the interaction of civic groups and business interests determines the quality of local decision making.


Research Papers

Boex, Jamie and Serdar Yilma. “An Analytical Framework for Assessing Decentralized Local Governance and the Local Public Sector,” IDG Working Paper 6 (2010).

Summary: There is a growing recognition within the global development community that the public sector in developing and transition countries must be made to function more effectively and efficiently in the pursuit of their own development and poverty reduction ambitions. This cannot be done without considering the critical role of the local public sector, since most (pro-poor) public services are delivered at the local level, whether by the deconcentrated departments of line ministries or by devolved local government authorities. While the development community seeks to better understand the complex interrelations that drive the performance of decentralized political, administrative and fiscal systems, there is a dearth of relevant comparative information and data when it comes to the details of these decentralized systems, especially in developing and transition economies.

Diamond, Larry, "Why Decentralize Power in A Democracy?" (Paper Presented at Conference on Fiscal and Administrative Decentralization, Baghdad, 2004).

Summary: Democracy requires more than just periodic elections to choose national leaders.  In middle to larger countries, the principles of democracy require that requires that people be able to elect their own local leaders and representatives, and that these local governments have some real power to respond to the needs of the people.  The author also addresses the concern that decentralization will lead to disintegration by arguing that disintegration is not a function of decentralization but rather a result of a democracy that is not truly free or representative of all its people. 

Kauzya, John-Mary. “Political Decentralization in Africa: Experiences of Uganda, Rwanda, and South Africa,”  United Nations Discussion Paper (2007).

Summary: Decentralized governance is increasingly being favored by many African countries as the most suitable mode of governance through which poverty reduction interventions can be conceived, planned, implemented, monitored and evaluated.  The article shows that decentralization has enhanced participation in decision-making, enabled local communities to determine their local leadership through democratic elections, provided institutionalized structural arrangements for participatory bottom-up development planning, and for involving special groups such as women, youth and the disabled in decision-making. It has also facilitated the mainstreaming of gender in development planning at local level.

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