Reinventing the Third World State
Edited by Willy McCourt and Martin Minogue
Howard Elcock and Martin Minogue INTRODUCTION This chapter examines the range of reforms in decentralized government, analysing ideas and practices in Britain, Eastern Europe and developing countries. The aim is to assess the relative significance of ‘new public management’ reforms in different economic and political systems: developed, transitional and developing. The analysis argues that attempts to apply managerial reforms have varied so considerably across these systems, and with such differential impact, that it would be misleading to suggest anything like a common reform practice. Moreover, it is argued, a political model has greater power than a managerial reform model to capture the significant issues in central-local government relations across different types of economic and political systems at different levels of development. The analysis begins by presenting the structural, managerial and political characteristics of reforms to local government in Britain, chosen because of the substantial degree of change in this developed country example over the past three decades. This is followed by an examination of the significance of political and constitutional issues in decentralizing reforms in the transitional economies of Eastern Europe using case material from Poland and Czechoslovakia; and goes on to consider recent developments in decentralization in developing countries. The primary conclusion is that while new public management reforms have had a significant impact on British local government, there has been little effective transfer of these reforms to local and regional governments in transitional and developing economies, where political strategies of decentralization have been more significant in practice. BRITISH...
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