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Polycentric Polity: Genuine vs. Spurious Federalism


  • Eusepi Giuseppe

    (Sapienza University of Rome)

  • Wagner Richard E.

    () (George Mason University)


Federalism is commonly described in contradictory fashion as involving both competition and decentralization. These descriptions may appear similar on the surface, but they emanate from contradictory analytical orientations. Competition entails a polycentric arrangement of competitors where there is no locus of control over the arrangement. In contrast, decentralization is a monocentric arrangement that involves a locus of control. To treat federalism as a method for decentralizing governments leads to a spurious form of federalism because the object that has been identified is not genuinely a competitively organized system of government. Genuine federalism requires a polycentric arrangement that is organized through openly competitive processes. In contrast, the spurious form of federalism allows hierarchy to trump open competition.

Suggested Citation

  • Eusepi Giuseppe & Wagner Richard E., 2010. "Polycentric Polity: Genuine vs. Spurious Federalism," Review of Law & Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 6(3), pages 329-345, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:bpj:rlecon:v:6:y:2010:i:3:n:2

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Bruni S. Frey, 1999. "The New Democratic Federalism For Europe," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 1679 edited by Reiner Eichenberger.
    2. Olson, Mancur, Jr, 1969. "The Principle of "Fiscal Equivalence": The Division of Responsibilities among Different Levels of Government," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 59(2), pages 479-487, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Richard Wagner, 2011. "Municipal corporations, economic calculation, and political pricing: exploring a theoretical antinomy," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 149(1), pages 151-165, October.
    2. Ilia Murtazashvili & Ennio E. Piano, 2019. "Governance of shale gas development: Insights from the Bloomington school of institutional analysis," The Review of Austrian Economics, Springer;Society for the Development of Austrian Economics, vol. 32(2), pages 159-179, June.
    3. Giuseppe Eusepi, 2019. "Note Bibliografiche: Celant A. (2016), Frammenti. Per un discorso sul territorio," Moneta e Credito, Economia civile, vol. 72(286), pages 149-151.
    4. Wagner Richard E., 2010. "Raising vs. Leveling in the Social Organization of Welfare," Review of Law & Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 6(3), pages 421-439, December.
    5. Shruti Rajagopalan & Richard Wagner, 2013. "Constitutional craftsmanship and the rule of law," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 24(4), pages 295-309, December.

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