Local governance and the challenge of solving collective action dilemmas
This dissertation consists of four related but self-contained articles. The over-arching theme that binds these articles is that neither decentralization nor democracy is enough to guarantee relevant governance outcomes. The outcome of democratic decentralization reforms depends on conditions that contribute to the emergence of institutions of collective action.
Chapter 2 looks to explain why local environmental policies in Brazil are shaped through the collective action of many, frequently interacting policy actors in some municipalities, while they are not so much subject to deliberative and inclusive decision-making in others? I show that positive governance outcomes seem related with the ability of relevant policy actors to overcome collective action dilemmas.
Chapter 3 explores the conditions that contribute to the likelihood that rural municipalities in Brazil, Chile, Mexico and Peru, respectively will open up to constituent participation in governance decisions. I show that regardless of regime type, participatory governance becomes more likely when the goals of these institutions are compatible with the interests of the local executive.
In Chapter 4, I find that in Brazil the impact of democratic decentralization reforms is locally mitigated by institutional arrangements that direct form and intensity of interaction between policy actors. The more organized interest groups are, the more likely it is that local authorities respond relevantly to constituent preferences.
Chapter 5 studies the governance of community forests, which doesn't necessarily rely on a protagonist role of any government entity. I show that social learning, organization, leadership, and autonomy of forest user groups, contribute to the appearance of the institutions for collective action that are crucial for good forest governance. The quantitative analyses presented in all chapters are based on large-N datasets, some of them national (chapter 2 and 4), others cross-national (Chapters 3 and 5).
0700: Social structure