Perspectives From Academics and Policymakers

Jean-Paul Faguet[1]   &   Caroline Pöschl[2]


Decentralization research has become more quantitative and formal over the past two decades. But as technical rigor has increased, the focus of research has narrowed to decentralization’s effects on particular policy variables, leaving aside larger, more nuanced and complex questions of crucial importance to policymakers contemplating reform. This book seeks to return attention to issues like this that rank among policymakers’ first concerns, but are methodologically difficult to answer. We do this by marrying the insights and experience of senior policymakers involved in driving decentralization forward at the highest levels, with academics working at the forefront of the field in economics, politics, and development and policy studies. This chapter introduces the book by analyzing the following questions: Why do politicians decentralize in the first place?  How can reform be made politically feasible?  How can decentralization lead to improved development outcomes?  Do municipalities compete amongst themselves, and what effects might this have on public policy and services?  Will decentralization promote clientelism or broad-based development?  And finally, will decentralization strengthen or weaken  developing states?  The evidence presented in the book provides a firm basis for concrete answers to all of these questions, allied to specific policy advice for aspiring reformers.


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