IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

The perils of polycentric governance of infectious disease in South Africa


  • Lieberman, Evan S.


In much of the developing world, a model of polycentric governance has become increasingly prevalent for the control of health and infectious disease - one in which a panoply of governance actors work concurrently on the same development projects, within the same localities. And yet, the question of whether polycentrism helps or hinders disease control/mitigation, or service provision more generally, has not been sufficiently studied. This article details findings from an exploratory case study of the polycentric governance of infectious disease in the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa. Combining analyses of an original survey of local councilors, structured interviews with relevant actors in four municipalities, and a national survey of South African citizens, the study finds a high degree of polycentric governance, and highlights associated accountability gaps and a series of constraints on effective service delivery. It concludes by identifying promising directions for future research.

Suggested Citation

  • Lieberman, Evan S., 2011. "The perils of polycentric governance of infectious disease in South Africa," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 73(5), pages 676-684, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:73:y:2011:i:5:p:676-684

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Fred Cutler, 2004. "Government Responsibility and Electoral Accountability in Federations," Publius: The Journal of Federalism, Oxford University Press, vol. 34(2), pages 19-38, Spring.
    2. Williamson, Oliver, 2009. "The Theory of the Firm as Governance Structure: From Choice to Contract," Economic Policy, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, vol. 6, pages 111-134, December.
    3. repec:cup:apsrev:v:55:y:1961:i:04:p:831-842_12 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Krister Andersson & Elinor Ostrom, 2008. "Analyzing decentralized resource regimes from a polycentric perspective," Policy Sciences, Springer;Society of Policy Sciences, vol. 41(1), pages 71-93, March.
    5. Nicoli Nattrass, 2006. "What Determines Cross-Country Access to Antiretroviral Treatment?," Development Policy Review, Overseas Development Institute, vol. 24(3), pages 321-337, May.
    6. Evans, Peter, 1996. "Government action, social capital and development: Reviewing the evidence on synergy," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 24(6), pages 1119-1132, June.
    7. Brautigam, Deborah A & Knack, Stephen, 2004. "Foreign Aid, Institutions, and Governance in Sub-Saharan Africa," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 52(2), pages 255-285, January.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Galaz, Victor & Crona, Beatrice & Österblom, Henrik & Olsson, Per & Folke, Carl, 2012. "Polycentric systems and interacting planetary boundaries — Emerging governance of climate change–ocean acidification–marine biodiversity," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 81(C), pages 21-32.


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:73:y:2011:i:5:p:676-684. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.