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Alaska Native Self-Government and Service Delivery: What Works?


  • Cornell, Stephen

    (Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy, U of Arizaona)

  • Kalt, Joseph P.

    (Harvard U and U of Arizona)


This study examines the determinants of the boundaries of efficient governance and social service delivery in Native Alaskan communities. These communities are commonly quite small and remote, and often have only modest administrative capacity. These factors suggest that economies of scale may operate and push the efficient location of governance and social service delivery toward regions and the State and away from the villages. Counteracting such tendencies, however, are principal-agent issues of accountability and "cultural match". Research in similar, American Indian settings outside of Alaska and examination of actual performance in a number of Alaskan cases indicate that local control substantially enhances accountability and improves the likelihood that decision makers operate with legitimacy and responsiveness to local conditions, norms, and values. At the same time, it is found that diseconomies of small scale are being overcome through innovative adaptations, such as provision of social services through multiple-village cooperation and governance by sub-regional village organizations.

Suggested Citation

  • Cornell, Stephen & Kalt, Joseph P., 2003. "Alaska Native Self-Government and Service Delivery: What Works?," Working Paper Series rwp03-042, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecl:harjfk:rwp03-042

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Egnal, Marc, 1996. "Divergent Paths: How Culture and Institutions Have Shaped North American Growth," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195098662.
    2. Egnal, Marc, 1996. "Divergent Paths: How Culture and Institutions Have Shaped North American Growth," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195109061.
    3. Cornell, Stephen & Gil-Swedberg, Marta Cecilia, 1995. "Sociohistorical Factors in Institutional Efficacy: Economic Development in Three American Indian Cases," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 43(2), pages 239-268, January.
    4. Robert J. Barro, 1991. "Economic Growth in a Cross Section of Countries," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 106(2), pages 407-443.
    5. Krepps, Matthew B. & Caves, Richard E., 1994. "Bureaucrats and Indians: Principal-agent relations and efficient management of tribal forest resources," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 133-151, July.
    6. Cornell, Stephen & Kalt, Joseph P, 1995. "Where Does Economic Development Really Come From? Constitutional Rule among the Contemporary Sioux and Apache," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 33(3), pages 402-426, July.
    7. Cornell, Stephen & Kalt, Joseph P., 2000. "Where's the glue? Institutional and cultural foundations of American Indian economic development," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 29(5), pages 443-470.
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