Decentralization & Democratic Governance
Experiences from India, Bolivia & South Africa

Edited By Axel Hadenius
December 2003
Almqvist & Wiksell International
ISBN: 91-7496-314-7
166 pages, Illustrated, 6 " x 9 "
$47.50 Paper Original

Decentralization implies the devolution of state authority. Decision-making capacity and resources are transferred from the center to organs at the local level. Such reforms can enhance the quality of democratic governance: the state becomes more effective and more responsive to popular demands. But decentralization may also have the opposite effect by breeding corruption, mismanagement and the rule of self-serving elites. This study focuses on the experience of decentralization in three countries: India, Bolivia and South Africa. The main argument is that the advancement of democratic governance - the capacity to effectively meet broad popular demands - is a two-way process. Different forms of control, both from above and from bellow, need to be at work. The central government must take an active role, as must actors at the local level. The two spheres of control should be interlinked and mutually reinforcing in order to reap the benefits of decentralization while avoiding its pitfalls.

Expert Group on Development Issues 2003:3

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