Incorporating Political Economy Analysis intoDecentralization Projects
Starting Premise• Decentralization is a diverse and complex phenomenon.• Decentralization reforms could likely be designed and implemented more effectively if more attention were paid to political and institutional dynamics. ___________________________________________ More political economy (PE) analysis Better decisions by DP staff Better outcomes
Goals• To demonstrate how PE analysis can help to illuminate the political and institutional factors that have been most conducive to (and most obstructive of) decentralization adoption and implementation• To advocate for greater pragmatism and flexibility in decentralization reforms, which is particularly critical in the changing (and often quite volatile) political circumstances of countries in which development partners operate
Politicians’ Incentives• What drives politicians to decentralize? – Politicians cite lofty goals for decentralization (i.e. democracy, development, public security). – But other, more immediate, narrowly political factors are usually at play• Need to move beyond ―political will‖ to decentralize: assessing the “political incentives” facing politicians• Politicians decentralize when it serves their political interests, career paths, support coalitions and/or security of tenure.
Bureaucrats’ Incentives• Bureaucrats do not just implement decisions of politicians— they are political actors in their own right who pursue institutional and individual career interests• Central governments are not monolithic entities—substantially independent ministries with a stake in decentralization and varying levels of power may have different interests and few incentives to give up power and control over resources• Some ministries have consequential internal divisions as well
The Dynamism of Context and Incentives• After decentralization is adopted reality sets in for once complacent central agencies that did not protest decentralization adoption• Unintended or unexpectedly severe consequences may arise from the implementation of decentralization• Changes in power may motivate reassessment of positions on decentralization• Other major shifts in underlying conditions may reinforce or undermine decentralization
Post Adoption Reactions• Central government ministries that initially supporting politically driven decentralization may reconsider when they later understand the potential implications for their own power, resources and influence• Central agencies that did not see themselves as having a stake in decentralization may decide to enter the field when they see opportunities to benefit from being involved in or influencing the process
Challenges• There may be difficult decisions if there is a political window of opportunity to support reform• Piloting innovative approaches, well explained/disseminated analytical work, educational/capacity building efforts, and behind the scenes advocacy can be productive
Some Questions• Key Diagnostic Questions – What is the fundamental nature of the official decentralization policy and framework ? – What motivates policy and does it seem genuine? – Who are the key actors involved and how? – Are certain actors more powerful than others and what are the (likely) consequences? – What seems to be the main agenda of the key actors (are they acting consistently or at cross purposes)? – How have DPs been involved and to what effect? – What progress has been made with implementation? How has this been possible? – What are the realistic prospects for further reform?
Some Questions• Key Questions on Approach: – How does/can decentralization relate to broader underlying trends and policy trajectories? – In which specific areas of reform might value- added activities be supported (and how do they related to what others are doing)? – What is the right timing (early on to help define policy or after there is more clarity on direction)? – Which actor(s) might the most productively work with (traditional ministries, local governments, local government associations)?