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For developing countries, decentralising power from central government to local authorities holds the promise of deepening democracy, empowering citizens, improving public services and boosting economic growth. But the evidence on when and how decentralisation can bring these benefits has been mixed. Under the wrong conditions, decentralised power can be captured by unrepresentative elites or undermined by corruption and the clientelistic distribution of public resources. The picture is complex, and we still do not understand enough about what factors can contribute to creating better local government, and to what effect.
Decentralised Governance brings together a new generation of political economy studies that explore these questions analytically, blending theoretical insights with empirical innovation. Individual chapters provide fresh evidence from around the world, including broad cross-country data as well as detailed studies of Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, China, Indonesia, Ghana, Kenya and Colombia. They investigate the pros and cons of decentralisation in both democratic and autocratic regimes, and the effects of critical factors such as advances in technology, citizen-based data systems, political entrepreneurship in ethnically diverse societies, and reforms aimed at improving transparency and monitoring.
This wide-ranging volume examines the conditions under which devolving power can intensify democratic competition, boost transparency, and improve local governance, providing examples of good and bad practice in both. It is essential reading for researchers investigating decentralised governance, development and democratisation, and for policymakers and practitioners drawing lessons for future reforms.
"Decentralization as a way of improving quality of governance and delivery of public services is widely recognised. Yet the experience in its actual performance has been mixed particularly in developing countries. This book sifts through the diversity of experience in the context of several developing countries and points to the need for recognizing the diffuseness of the question often asked in studying such a governance reform and the necessarily multi-layered nature of the answers one should look for, both on the positive and negative aspects of such a policy change. This book provides a major step in our understanding the nuances and complexities of the subject, utilises both political and mechanism design insights, and guides us to valuable tools in reforming our beleaguered systems of political accountability."
— Pranab Bardhan, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Economics, University of California, Berkeley
"An essential and long-awaited book on the effects of decentralisation in developing countries from a comparative perspective. Its reading will help to understand the complexity of decentralised governance and the importance of the role of political, social and cultural variables. It is a must-read for researchers, practitioners and anyone interested in the complexity of policy-making around the world."
— José M. Ruano, Director of the Complutense School of Government, Complutense University of Madrid and Editor of The Palgrave Handbook of Decentralisation in Europe
"Decentralisation has often been hailed as a panacea for development. However, if not implemented effectively, it can fail to deliver on its promise. This book edited by Faguet and Pal provides —using a wealth of cases covering many parts of the emerging world— the necessary guidance to harness the potential of decentralisation while sidestepping its drawbacks. A must read."
— Andrés Rodríguez-Pose, Princesa de Asturias Chair, London School of Economics
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Faguet J. & Pal S. (eds.) 2023. Decentralised Governance: Crafting Effective Democracies Around the World. London: LSE Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.31389/lsepress.dlg
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Published on Sept. 13, 2023