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From Identity to the Economy: Analysing the Evolution of the Decentralisation Discourse

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  • Andrés Rodriguez-Pose
  • Richard Sandall

Abstract

Few global phenomena have been as pervasive over the lifetime of Government and Policy as the drive towards decentralisation. The number of countries transferring authority and resources to subnational tiers of government has multiplied over the last twenty-five years. Yet the motives behind this trend remain relatively unknown. We explore these motives by analysing changes in the decentralisation discourse across a number of countries. We find that, while arguments about democracy and good governance have been at the heart of the reasoning for decentralisation, identity has progressively been relegated in favour of the economy and the promise of an economic dividend as the other main motivating factor. However, this shift from identity to the economy is highly contingent on who is driving the process. Despite noticeable shifts towards economic arguments in the discourse of nationalist and secessionist movements, identity remains strong in bottom-up discourses. In contrast, it has almost disappeared—if it ever existed—when the process of decentralisation is undertaken by the state or is encouraged by international organisations.

Suggested Citation

  • Andrés Rodriguez-Pose & Richard Sandall, 2008. "From Identity to the Economy: Analysing the Evolution of the Decentralisation Discourse," Environment and Planning C, , vol. 26(1), pages 54-72, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:envirc:v:26:y:2008:i:1:p:54-72
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    Cited by:

    1. Andrés Rodríguez-Pose & Anne Krøijer, 2009. "Fiscal Decentralization and Economic Growth in Central and Eastern Europe," Growth and Change, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 40(3), pages 387-417.
    2. Andrés Rodríguez-Pose & Roberto Ezcurra, 2010. "Does decentralization matter for regional disparities? A cross-country analysis," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 10(5), pages 619-644, September.
    3. Benny Geys & Federico Revelli, 2011. "Economic and Political Foundations of Local Tax Structures: An Empirical Investigation of the Tax Mix of Flemish Municipalities," Environment and Planning C, , vol. 29(3), pages 410-427, June.
    4. repec:eee:trapol:v:63:y:2018:i:c:p:131-140 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Dotti, Nicola Francesco, 2018. "Knowledge that matters for the ‘survival of unfittest’: The case of the new Brussels' rail junction," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 63(C), pages 131-140.
    6. Luis Diaz-Serrano & Andrés Rodríguez-Pose, 2015. "Decentralization and the Welfare State: What Do Citizens Perceive?," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 120(2), pages 411-435, January.
    7. Germà Bel & Antonio Miralles, 2010. "Choosing between Service Fees and Budget Funding to Pay for Local Services: Empirical Evidence from Spain," Environment and Planning C, , vol. 28(1), pages 54-71, February.
    8. Irina N. Ilina & Carol S. Leonard & Evgenij E. Plisetskij, 2014. "Russian Regional Resilience: Finance, Cooperation And Resource Abundance (A Case Study Of Khanty-Mansiysk)," HSE Working papers WP BRP 15/PA/2014, National Research University Higher School of Economics.

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