Chapter 1 – IS DECENTRALIZATION GOOD FOR DEVELOPMENT?
Perspectives From Academics and Policymakers
Jean-Paul Faguet & Caroline Pöschl
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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