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Decentralization and Subnational Politics in Latin America

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  • Date Published: June 2010
  • availability: This ISBN is for an eBook version which is distributed on our behalf by a third party.
  • format: Adobe eBook Reader
  • isbn: 9780511770937
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About the Authors
  • Is it always true that decentralization reforms put more power in the hands of governors and mayors? In postdevelopmental Latin America, the surprising answer to this question is no. In fact, a variety of outcomes are possible, depending largely on who initiates the reforms, how they are initiated, and in what order they are introduced. Tulia G. Falleti draws on extensive fieldwork, in-depth interviews, archival records, and quantitative data to explain the trajectories of decentralization processes and their markedly different outcomes in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico. In her analysis, she develops a sequential theory and method that are successful in explaining this counterintuitive result. Her research contributes to the literature on path dependence and institutional evolution and will be of interest to scholars of decentralization, federalism, subnational politics, intergovernmental relations, and Latin American politics.

    • Studies the four largest countries of Latin America: Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico
    • Based on extensive fieldwork research, in-depth interviews with national and subnational politicians and public officials, and the analysis of unpublished archival materials
    • Unique in analyzing decentralization reforms in a comprehensive manner, studying fiscal and political decentralization reforms alongside the administrative decentralization of social services such as education or health
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    Reviews & endorsements

    “Sequence analysis meets subnational politics in this must-read study of decentralization in Latin America. Drawing on extensive original research in four countries, Falleti uses a new ‘comparative sequence method’ to show how decentralization reforms varyingly empower subnational political actors depending on when and in what order they are adopted. This fascinating argument is a shining example of the power of comparative-historical analysis and will become a touchstone for all future research on subnational politics in Latin America.”
    —James Mahoney, Northwestern University

    “Advocates and detractors of decentralization have assumed that it increases the power of subnational governments – whether for good or for ill. But what if they are both wrong? In this important and innovative work, Tulia Falleti offers a major corrective to the literature on decentralization by showing that decentralizing reforms do not necessarily enhance the resources, authority and capacity of subnational officials relative to the center. It all depends, according to Falleti, on the territorial interests (national or subnational) that dominate the initial decision to decentralize, along with the particular sequence of decentralizing reforms (administrative, fiscal and political) that is thereby set in motion. Based on exhaustive research in four major Latin American countries, Falleti offers a theory of decentralization that is both elegant and respectful of the complexities of her cases. This book should be carefully read not only by students of decentralization, but by the scores of development practitioners who are actively engaged in programs of support for decentralization across the developing world.”
    —Kent Eaton, University of California, Santa Cruz

    “Falleti’s original sequential theory of decentralization persuasively explains the variation in the substance and effects of decentralization in Latin America’s largest countries according to the timing of the entrance of the national and local actors onto the stage. Informed by more than one hundred and fifty in-depth interviews with top ranking politicians and extensive archival research, this marvelous book makes a compelling contribution to the study of Latin American politics.”
    —Frances Hagopian, University of Notre Dame

    “Tulia Falleti’s study of decentralization in Latin America is a jewel of thoughtful, comparative analysis. Why is there so much variation in the autonomy of subnational governments? The answer is elegant and powerful: final outcomes depend heavily on initial reforms. A territorial coalition that prioritizes political over administrative decentralization carves a path to deeper subnational autonomy than one that prefers administrative over political decentralization. This is a must-read for anyone interested in decentralization.”
    —Liesbet Hooghe, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

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    Product details

    • Date Published: June 2010
    • format: Adobe eBook Reader
    • isbn: 9780511770937
    • contains: 25 b/w illus. 17 tables
    • availability: This ISBN is for an eBook version which is distributed on our behalf by a third party.
  • Table of Contents

    1. Decentralization and the revival of subnational politics
    2. A sequential theory of decentralization and the intergovernmental balance of power
    3. Argentina: the national dominance path to decentralization
    4. Colombia: the subnational dominance path to decentralization in a unitary country
    5. Brazil: the subnational dominance path to decentralization in a federal country
    6. Mexico: the subnational response path to decentralization
    7. Conclusion: decentralization, temporal analysis, and territorial politics
    Appendix: in-depth interviews.

  • Instructors have used or reviewed this title for the following courses

    • Advanced Seminar/Comparative Politics: Decentralization and Development
    • Comparative Administrative Systems
    • Intro to Latin American politics
  • Author

    Tulia G. Falleti, University of Pennsylvania
    Tulia G. Falleti is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania. Her work on decentralization, federalism, and research methodology has appeared in the American Political Science Review, Comparative Political Studies, Publius, Qualitative Sociology, Critique Internationale (France), Desarrollo Económico (Argentina), Política y Gobierno (Mexico), and Sociologias (Brazil), as well as in edited volumes published in the United States, Argentina, and Brazil. She has received awards and fellowships from the Social Science Research Council, the United States Institute of Peace, the Ford Foundation in conjunction with the Latin American Studies Association, and the Ministry of Science, Technology, and Productive Innovation of Argentina. In 2006, she earned the Gregory Luebbert Award from the American Political Science Association for the best article in comparative politics for her article 'A Sequential Theory of Decentralization: Latin American Cases in Comparative Perspective.'

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