restricted access Foreword
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Few issues have created as much controversy over the past half century as how governments and political systems should be structured and how public policies should be made and implemented. Centralists generally believe that national political leaders and administrators know best how to provide security, promote economic growth, and maintain political stability. Those who argue for decentralization generally tend to have a more populist view. They tend to believe that the best public policies come from wide participation in public affairs and from local knowledge about how best to solve problems and meet the needs of citizens. Globalization has brought increasing interaction among governments, private enterprise, and organizations of civil society and, with it, increasing pluralism in shaping public policies both within and among countries. All three of these entities—governments, private enterprise, and civil society organizations—have come to be seen as institutions of governance, whose participation is crucial in mobilizing the knowledge and insight necessary to take advantage of the potential benefits of globalization and to mitigate or prevent its potential threats. As a result of changes brought about by globalization and also of changes in the concepts of governance, new forms of participation—and demands for them—have emerged in both rich and poor countries. These changes are redefining the meaning of decentralization. In the 1970s and 1980s decentralization was seen primarily as the deconcentration, delegation, or devolution of Foreword ix 10491-00_FM.qxd 5/18/07 2:42 PM Page ix responsibility for decisionmaking and administration from the central level of government to subordinate administrative units or local governments. New concepts and practices of decentralization are emerging, however, that create new forms of participation, new dimensions of power sharing, and new sources of influence over public policymaking and implementation. This book, the first of a series sponsored by the Ash Institute and Brookings Institution Press on “Innovative Governance in the 21st Century,” will be launched at the Seventh Global Forum on Reinventing Government, hosted by the United Nations at the UN headquarters in Vienna in June 2007. The theme of the Seventh Global Forum, endorsed by the UN General Assembly, is “building trust in government.” Decentralization contributes to trust in government by bringing government closer to people. The Ash Institute and the United Nations collaborated in organizing the Global Forum. In this book, the authors seek to explore and examine the shift from decentralization of government to decentralized governance and to assess emerging principles and practices in the public, private, and civil society sectors. We thank G. Shabbir Cheema, principal adviser, United Nations, and the late Dennis A. Rondinelli, senior research scholar, Duke University, for leading the group of eminent scholars in preparing the chapters. Their earlier book on decentralization and development, published in 1983, has been widely quoted in the literature on the subject. We are grateful to them for revisiting the subject and for their leadership in providing the conceptual framework and examining decentralized governance principles and practices. It is due primarily to the authors of the chapters in this volume and to their dedication and commitment to analyzing the emerging principles and practices of decentralized governance around the world that we are able to understand better the importance of these changing concepts. All of the observations and conclusions are, of course, those of the authors and should not be attributed to the sponsoring organizations, the United Nations, or the organizations with which the authors and editors are affiliated. Thanks are also due to our colleagues at the Ash Institute for facilitating the work of the study group, including the organization of the authors’ meeting at the Kennedy School to discuss the conceptual framework and outlines of various chapters. Gowher Rizvi, Director Guido Bertucci, Director Ash Institute for Democratic Governance Division for Public Administration and Innovation and Development Management John F. Kennedy School of Government Department of Economic Harvard University and Social Affairs United Nations x foreword 10491-00_FM.qxd 5/18/07 2:42 PM Page x ...


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