• White Paper

Democratic Decentralization


Barnett, C. C., Minis Jr, H. P., & VanSant, J. (1997). Democratic Decentralization.


The strategic objective that democratic decentralization serves is to broaden legitimacy, transparency, and accountability within the political systems of the countries where the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is providing development assistance.RTI is engaged in a task to clarify how and under what circumstances decentralization can be used to induce higher levels of democratic behavior. That is, what factors strengthen the link between decentralization and democratic results?The purpose of this paper is to provide a conceptual framework for understanding democratic decentralization. Such a framework could offer a consistent basis for thinking about project design and for assessing democratic decentralization activities. The framework presented in this paper defines two key relationships of democratic decentralization: the relationship between the central government and local government (decentralization) and the relationship between local government and citizens (democratic local governance). Five key characteristics of democratic decentralization are also identified and explored.