Special issue of World Development journal, 34 (11) pp1851-1995,2006.
Ed. Simon Batterbury,
The papers are contributions to the emerging literature on the impacts of changes in the level or scale of political governance. The ‘impacts’ discussed are broad, though most of them emerge from neo-liberal development agendas and donor conditionalities designed to improve environmental governance. Impacts range from landscape changes at field and village, to broad historical changes to power relationships and social networks - they include changes to levels of corruption, social wellbeing and social capital; functioning of community-based natural resource management; regional development, and the effectiveness of new political institutions to deliver equitable governance. Papers treat the question of impact and outcome in different ways, but the governance theme is strong in each. All papers combine on-the-ground empirical assessments (of decentralization policies, in particular) with historical analysis and reflection on individual cases. These papers, as we describe in the introductory article, are important examples of the interdisciplinary contributions of geography and allied disciplines to the understanding of governance.
The collection makes the point that scaling ’down’ governance to local levels has serious problems – many of these, however, replace other problems that existed prior to decentralization reforms being initiated. Some of these issues are, of course, prefigured in the colonial period. If one adopts the idea of ‘governmentality’ (see our intro) then a powerful development discourse can have multiple scale effects, that need to be charted and explained. Scale and history matter – the new critiques of “scale” in social science, by Massey, Ferguson, and my former colleagues Sallie Marston and JP Jones don’t work as well in the cases outlines here when governance occurs at discrete and bounded “scales” and political hierarchies of power are very important. At these scales, of course, there are complex social networks operating, as these authors suggest.
The collection has already been used by DANIDA for training of senior government officials of the Royal Government of Cambodia, to guide sub-national democratic development for the use of and management of land and natural resources in the country (November 2006). The collection is also being adopted in 2007 for teaching at several universities.
You have to subscribe to the journal to get the papers (until the copyright allows greater access in a few years), but get in touch with me if you have difficulties.
1. Rescaling governance and the impacts of political and environmental decentralization: an introduction World Development 34 (11): 1851-1863. older version here on the link)
Dr Simon Batterbury,
This article introduces a collection of papers that provide empirical studies of the impacts that result from changes to established modes of governance: in particular, decentralizing the scale at which state institutions operate or the privatization of service delivery. We critically assess the claims made for “good governance” reforms in the light of these studies. Altering the scale, and the style, of governance has inevitable consequences for power structures, institutions, livelihoods, and physical landscapes. We offer a framework for analyzing these consequences, focusing on the temporal and scalar dimensions of political and environmental decentralization and changes to established modes of governance.
2. Recentralizing while
Dr Jesse Ribot, Senior Fellow, World Resources Institute. Dr Arun Agrawal, Associate
3. Governing Access to Forests in
Northern Ghana: micro-politics and the rents of non-enforcement World Development 34(11): 1887-1906.
D. Andrew Wardell, Counsellor-Development, Royal Danish Embassy, Phnom Penh, Cambodia [Andrew ‘at’ wardell.dk] and Prof. Christian Lund, IDS, Roskilde University, Denmark
Decentralization of natural
resource management is often presented as a novelty. However, successive
attempts to decentralize authority were undertaken during the development of
forest policy in the
4. Decentralization, Ecological Construction, and the
Environment in Post-reform
Hong Jiang, Assistant Professor, Geography,
This paper explores why post-reform decentralization in
Chinahas failed to bring about environmental sustainability, using a case study from Uxin banner in Inner Mongolia. The local government has promoted intensive grassland improvement in its political, economic, and environmental policies under the umbrella of "ecological construction," a term used to describe the enhancement of vegetation cover on this arid terrain. The government's aggressive approach to ecological construction, however, is incongruent with the ecology of the Inner Mongolian drylands. Consequently, although beneficial to short-term economic growth, "ecological construction" has led to unintended grassland degradation, thus undermining environmental sustainability.
Corruption or Corrupt Decentralization? Community Monitoring of Poverty-Alleviation
Dr. René Véron, Department of Geography,
Democratic decentralization and community participation often stand at the center of an agenda of "good governance" that aims to reduce corruption and increase the state's accountability to its citizens. However, this paper suggests based on empirical studies on the Employment Assurance Scheme in rural
West Bengalthat the strength of upward accountability (especially to political parties) is as crucial as downward accountability to communities. When these vertical accountabilities are weak, horizontal accountability structures between local civil society and officials can mutate into networks of corruption in which "community" actors become accomplices or primary agents.
6. Is small really beautiful? Community-based natural resource management in
Malawiand . World Development 34(11)1942-1957 Botswana
Prof Piers Blaikie,
natural resource management (CBNRM) remains a popular policy with many
international funding institutions, in spite of growing evidence of its
disappointing outcomes. It is underpinned by theoretically justified benefits
which serve to reproduce and market it. The paper explores approaches to
understand and rectify these failures. The conclusion is that explanatory
effort should be expanded from the "facilitating characteristics" of
potentially successful CBNRM sites to include two sets of interfaces-those
between donors and recipient states, and between the state (especially the
local state) and CBNRMs at the local level. Illustrative
Shorter version published as Blaikie, P. 2005.
Community-based natural resource management in
7. Local Capacity, Village Governance and the Political Economy of Rural Development in
World Development 34(11)1958-1976 Indonesia
Prof. Anthony Bebbington, (Institute for Development Policy and Management, University of Manchester, UK Leni Dharmawan (Social Development Group World Bank, Jakarta, Indonesia) , Erwin Fahmi (University of Indonesia, Jakarta) , Scott Guggenheim (Social Development Group World Bank, Jakarta, Indonesia)
This paper develops a framework for conceptualizing local capacity to address
village level livelihood and governance problems. The framework is based on an
analysis of asset distribution, combined with an explicit analysis of the links
between processes of state formation, state-business linkages and local forms
of social capital. The framework is used to discuss findings from recent
research on village capacity in rural
8. Paradoxes of Decentralization: Water Reform and Social Implications in
World Development 34(11) 1977-1995 Mexico
Dr Margaret Wilder, Assistant Professor, Center for
Latin American Studies, University of Arizona, USA & Prof. Patricia Romero Lankao,
Deputy Director, Institute for the
Study of Society and Environment (ISSE), NCAR,
Decentralized governance of
water resources is a centerpiece of