i. institutional development

Project VIE/02/007 “Strengthening the Capacity of People’s Elected Bodies in Viet Nam” Supported by Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, UK Department for International Development, Canadian International Development Agency and Irish Aid
The institutional development of
local government in less
developed countries:
a literature review
Lenni Montiel
Ha Noi - Viet Nam
The PDF file of this publication is available at
This work was first published in 1997 as a research paper at the
International Development Department of the University of Birmingham, UK.
The report is reproduced with authorization of the author, without changes or amendments and
solely with the purpose to serve as a basic reference for Vietnamese Officials involved in the
process of strengthening of People’s Provincial, District and Commune Councils and Committees
(Local Government institutions in Vietnam).
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY ................................................................................................... i 1. The definitional problem of Institutional Development (ID) ................................... i 2. ID- a key element in the development business .................................................... i 3. Complexity and the influence of international agendas on ID-issues..................... i 4. The need of more effective ID activities ................................................................. i 5. The context of ID of Local Government (LG) ........................................................ii 6. Reforms and ID of LG ............................................................................................ii 7. The need for a comprehensive approach to ID of LG ...........................................iii 8. Davey’s components- the basic framework for ID of LG.......................................iii 9. Considerations on the provision of ID for LG ........................................................iv 10. Level and content of ID for LG in less developed countries (LDCs) .................... v 11. Trends on ID in the general literature on LG in LDCs ........................................... v 12. The predominance of central government and external donors............................vi 13. ID and international technical cooperation ............................................................vi 14. Is ID for LG better than institutional strengthening?.............................................vii 15. Institutional Development, what for? ....................................................................vii Introduction .......................................................................................................................ix I. Institutional Development.......................................................................................... 1 A. The lack of an agreed definition on Institutional Development.............................. 1 B. What is institutional development?........................................................................ 2 C. Has ID proved to be an adequate method for promoting better
institutions for development? ................................................................................ 4 D. The search of better strategies for effective ID ..................................................... 8 II. Institutional Development of Local Government in Less Developed Countries ...... 16 A. Introduction ......................................................................................................... 16 B. General considerations on the literature related to ID of LG............................... 17 C. Local government reform and ID......................................................................... 18 1. Local government reform ............................................................................ 18 2. Reform and ID of LG ................................................................................... 19 3. Study of LG reforms- necessary but not sufficient for ID purposes............. 22 D. How to develop the capabilities of LG in LDCs? ................................................ 22 1. The areas of ID............................................................................................ 22 2. ID- more effectiveness and efficiency in LG................................................ 23 3. Dependency on Central Government for ID activities in LDCs’ LG............ 23 4. World Bank concern for ID of LG ................................................................ 24 5. The IULA-EMME strategy for ID.................................................................. 25 6. Some considerations on technical assistance and training for ID of LG ..... 26 7. Beyond traditional technical assistance for LG .......................................... 28 8. Strengthening urban institutional capabilities .............................................. 34 9. An holistic approach to ID of LG and urban management .......................... 34 III. institutional development: major trends in the literature.......................................... 41 A. Structure, functions and central-local relations ................................................... 41 1. Structure and functions ............................................................................... 41 2. Reform of central-local relations.................................................................. 44 3. Further research in the areas of structure, functions and
central-local relations reform....................................................................... 46 B. Internal management, organisation and process. ............................................... 47 1. Davey’s key elements ................................................................................. 47 2.
The Urban Management Programme.......................................................... 47
Further research.......................................................................................... 49
C. Staffing, human resources and training .............................................................. 50 1. Staffing and human resources .................................................................... 50 1.1 Davey’s key elements ................................................................................. 50 1.2 The contribution of the United Nations ........................................................ 50 1.3 The organisational behaviour perspective to human
resources management in LG.................................................................... 51 1.4 Some conclusions on human resources management and ID.................... 51 2. Training ....................................................................................................... 51 2.1 Organisation for LG training ........................................................................ 51 2.2 Constraints and problems of training-related activities................................ 52 2.3 Training for Councillors, Mayors and Chief Executives............................... 53 2.4 Coordination of training activities for LG ..................................................... 53 2.5 Training for capacity building....................................................................... 53 D. Financing............................................................................................................. 54 1. Davey’s key elements ................................................................................. 54 2. How to improve LG finance? ....................................................................... 54 3. Further research.......................................................................................... 57 E. Accountability and corruption .............................................................................. 57 1. Accountability .............................................................................................. 57 2. Corruption.................................................................................................... 58 F. External factors, interventions and cooperation .................................................. 59 1. Reform of central-local relations.................................................................. 59 2. International cooperation for ID of LG in LDC ............................................. 60 2.1 Multilateral development banks and other multilateral organisations.......... 61 2.2 Bilateral and international municipal cooperation........................................ 63 G. Additional considerations .................................................................................... 64 1. Institutional analysis, capacity and performance in LG ............................... 64 2. Local government associations ................................................................... 65 3. Municipal/ local government development organisations............................ 65 4. Governance and democracy ....................................................................... 65 5. Poverty alleviation, environment, women and gender
issues in LG in LDCs................................................................................... 66 6. Programmes and projects addressed to LG................................................ 66 7. LG in LDCs and in Eastern Europe and transitional economies ................. 66 8. Level and content of ID for LG in LDCs....................................................... 67 IV. Annex I .................................................................................................................... 78 Methodological issues and sources of information ................................................. 78 REFERENCES ............................................................................................................... 81 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
The definitional problem of Institutional Development
A standard and generally accepted definition of institutional development (ID) is not
available yet in the current development literature, as a result of which other
concepts are used as synonymous or “interchangeably”. In this paper definitions and
lists of operational elements of ID are reviewed. Evidence about the usefulness of
taking a broader definition of ID than in the organisational development-focused
sense are also analysed. This paper suggested: i) using the definition and
operational list of ID provided by Segura and Buyck (tables 1.1. and 1.2.); and ii) the
concepts of “ID”, “institution building”, “capacity building” and “institutional
strengthening” are considered interchangeably. A key concept for the understanding
of ID and its aim is that ID should improve the way that government works within a
defined policy framework. Therefore ID is concerned with “government reform”, as
opposed to “policy reform” (Segura,1992:3).
ID- a key element in the development business
Many years of effort in the area of ID have provided enough evidence of the failures
and problems related with the design and implementation of these development
activities. Some of the principal elements associated with this are: the way
cooperation agencies have approached the task (rigidly and inflexible, operating in
"blueprint mode" and with "standardised solutions"); the poor use of the project
approach; and the traditions and bureaucratic treatment of concepts and operational
elements such as technical cooperation and technical assistance. However, the
failures and difficulties in ID activities are not sufficient evidence to abandon the task
of promoting better institutions for development. ID is still a key element in
development activities.
Complexity and the influence of international agendas on ID-issues
Developing and transitional (former socialist) countries are facing new development
challenges in an increasingly complex world. Bilateral donor’s and cooperation
agencies’ agendas now include issues such as governance, democracy,
accountability and good government, decentralisation, better public services and
citizen participation. One should expect all these issues to strongly permeate ID
The need of more effective ID activities
With all the above mentioned restrictions, constraints and expectations, the challenge
then is, how to design and implement effective ID activities, taking into account what
has been learned from past experience. Agreement in this sense is not yet available,
but a list of attributes for successful ID-activities (analysis, design and
implementation) is provided and elements of caution are summarised in this paper.
This challenge is not an easy task, because there is not a clear definition of ID, nor of
the methods to achieve it, nor how to measure or evaluate its progress. These
elements condition the nature of ID as a low specificity activity. Complexity,
confusion, ambiguity and disagreement are common elements of the ID projects and
activities. Therefore, caution, awareness and guidance are needed. However, it was
suggested that more important than the achievement of common interpretation and
usage of all ID-related concepts is the search for better strategies for effective and
sustainable ID work in LDCs.
The context of ID of Local Government
The objective of carrying out ID activities addressed to local governments (LG) in
less developed countries (LDCs) has to be analysed in the following general context:
i) most activities undertaken in the area of ID have been mainly related to central
government agencies; ii) LG and local development have remained at the margin of
national and international assistance programmes; iii) decentralised sub-national
levels of government require as much ID work as central core and sectoral agencies;
although it is important to acknowledge the difficulties (related to different tiers of
government and the extent of sub-national governmental bodies) that the work at the
first mentioned level implies.
Additional elements that have to be taken into account are: i) the literature focused
on the area of ID is not plentiful; ii) the general literature commonly provides
information about the problems that local government have to face, but has to little to
say about the way of improving matters; iii) ID of LG in LDCs as a concept seems to
be an emerging area in the development literature since the late 1980s.
As in the general case of ID, different authors use different terms, to mean more or
less the same- namely the elements and actions necessary to develop the
capabilities of LG in LDCs to accomplish the management of local development in a
responsible and efficient manner. Although definitional problems were not
encountered, there is a great scope for work in this area.
Reforms and ID of LG
The literature on improvement of LG, both in LDCs and developed countries is
influenced by a group of works on LG reform or reorganisation. Reforms,
reorganisations, changes and decentralisation programmes in LG systems in LDCs
could be part of ID strategies and could be an encouraging factor for implementation
of technical assistance and ID-related work addressed to LG. But, ID and reforms,
reorganisations and changes are not necessarily the same.
ID understood as a reform or change must always be a conscious, purposeful,
directed action with a well-defined object. ID must generate intentional changes that
can create a reform at the micro-level, in a particular organisation, in a particular LG
organisation, or in a particular group of them, if a reform is to be produced at the
macro-level in a LG system of a particular region or country. Nevertheless, reforms,
reorganisations and changes in LG can be seen as an effective way of strengthening
LG, but there is enough evidence on the fact that these attempts has been aimed or
ended up as a way of weakening sub-national levels of government.
The study of LG reforms in both LDCs and developed countries has been focused on
the local-central relationship. A call to widen the scope of the study of LG reforms in
the future, including organisational and internal aspects, was made. This could
reinforce the analysis and information necessary for the development of an area like
ID for LG. This is an imperative in order to fill the research gap on specific questions
related to the purpose, “how-to” and delivery of ID of LG. How to develop the
capabilities of LG in LDCs? and, how can the provision of technical assistance and
training addressed to LG in LDCs be improved? These among others, are questions
still poorly illustrated in the literature.
The need for a comprehensive approach to ID of LG
This review has traced the literature on LG and decentralisation in LDCs in order to
identify elements that can contribute to the ID of LG in the developing areas of the
world. Having completed this review we may agree with Cochrane (1982: 6) on the
lack of systematic and detailed suggestions about how to improve matters in LDCs’
LG. Almost all studies and publications provide comments or even specific policy
oriented recommendations, but very few do so in a detailed manner. The lack of a
holistic approach to work on institutional development in LDCs’ LGs was identified.
Therefore, there is an important task for students and practitioners involved with LG
and decentralisation in LDCs - to compile and systematise a coherent and
comprehensive framework for the guidance and orientation of ID of LG as a whole
and in each of its main components.
LGs are complex organisations with a extensive range of functions and concerns
acting in complex political net of relationships and pressures. These conditions vary
not only from time to time in relation to a particular LG, but vary between LGs in the
same and in different countries. Hence universal prescriptions should be avoided.
But coherent and consistent frameworks for analysis are needed.
Frameworks should help to delimit ID work from specifically technical issues in any
area of concern of LG. ID seems to be a predominantly multidisciplinary task. In
many cases it includes a very large range of issues and expertise. Hence, confusion
and ambiguity can appear on the issue where the work of the ID specialist on LG
starts and finishes and where begins the work of other specialists involved in more
detailed tasks.
Davey’s components- the basic framework for ID of LG
ID of LG in LDCs has been developing as an specialised area since the late 1980s
and the most useful and certainly comprehensive framework is provided by Davey
(1996, 1989a,b), where a clear set of components for ID is considered, analysed and
compared using cases from Africa, Asia and Latin America. Further research in this
area should use these references as an starting point. The basic components for ID
of LG in LDCs are considered:
i) institutional factors: a) structure; b) functions; c) management, internal
organisation and processes; d) staffing and e) financing);
ii) accountability: to the electorate and to the central government has to be
included as an area of particular relevance for ID of LG in LDCs, this is
especially important when the process of changes explicitly considers
objectives related to governance and to more democracy and services.; and
iii) external interventions: a) reform of central-local relations; b) municipal
management systems; c) cost recovery; d) central guidance and
supervision; e) provision of credit for capital investment; f) providing rewards
and penalties for municipal performance; and g) training.
Relevant elements to take into consideration are: i) all the components of ID of LG
are heavily influenced by the values and expectations of LG staff and by an
organisational culture to which history, custom, politics, and style contribute in
substantial measure; ii) the mentioned areas for ID are very different, require
specialise knowledge and demand different professional expertise. Hence we can
speculate that a successful ID work in LG needs specialised professionals with an
holistic perspective; iii) most of the work done on ID-related issues in LG in LDCs is
related to central-local relations, finance and training; hence there is a great scope
for further research in all the other mentioned areas, both by country-specific and in
comparative perspective.
Considerations on the provision of ID for LG
Related to the question of provision of ID activities clear lesson from experiences
were highlighted, namely: i) demand driven not supply driven technical assistance
and training, as a fundamental element of an effective and efficient approach; ii)
cooperation with the private sector and fostering of new roles for different actors
involved with the development of LG, are an imperative; iii) leadership and
participation, as a basic elements of the process; iv) development of management
skills and promotion of innovative environment are an unavoidable framework; v) ID
must be conditional to the functions and forms of urban management; vi) ID has to be
an integral part of urban management and a permanent process in LG; vii)
sustainability of ID in LG is an imperative; viii) sustainability must be the test of ID
activities. If ID is not sustainable, it has failed; ix) sustainability must be tested.
Without the test, the cycle of the ID process is not completed.
The provision and promotion of ID work in LG can face difficulties, namely: i) cost of
ID efforts can be high, especially for weak and small authorities; ii) long-term
commitment of ID efforts may be in conflict with political realities; iii) the lack of
instruments and organisations able to generate an appropriate and sustainable effort
of dissemination of lessons and experiences; iv) the great amount of uncoordinated
ID activities sponsored by different donors and national agencies; v) weak and
unfriendly work methodologies; vi) weaknesses of institutional analysis, technical
assistance and training assessment needs; vii) the absence of a holistic view of
government that argues for integrating the efforts of all levels of government; viii) the
state of the art of ID of LG is not well established; and ix) the capacity of external
agencies to make effective ID interventions in LDCs’ LG is limited. The study and
development of these difficulties represent a challenge and a pointer for further
research for students of ID, LG, development administration and international aid.
Level and content of ID for LG in LDCs
The development of ID for LG in LDCs as an specific area of study and practice
should explore the question of the approach to be used for different cases dependent
i) the level or units where the action takes place (micro- a particular LG
organisation; or macro- a group of LG organisations or even the overall
universe of them in a particular region or country); and
ii) the content and nature of the action addressed in each case: a) globalconsidering work in a substantial group of components of ID; and b)
specialised or specific- considering ID work in any or few of the components
of ID.
Different combinations of the level and content of ID activities should imply different
institutional analysis approach, design and implementation strategies, impacts and
outputs. The literature does not reflect worries in this sense. Combining both
elements, levels of action and content of action, we can have a framework for the
analysis and classification of ID programmes addressed to LG in LDCs (table 3.2).
Trends on ID in the general literature on LG in LDCs
There are very few works on LG and decentralisation in LDCs written specifically with
an ID-orientation. A common trend in the literature is to present a general picture or
description of a very related group of issues (structure, functions, finance and centrallocal relations) in a particular case at a particular time. Less common is to find
detailed works focused in any particular of the ID selected topics, although in the
case of LG finance and to some extent training the situation is different.
In the case of the following areas, there is a significant lack of information, even
descriptive, related to LG in LDCs: human resources; management; internal;
organisation; internal processes; executive-legislative relationship; privatisation;
relations and cooperation with the private sector and NGOs; management of LG
technical agencies; municipal enterprises; women and gender issues; environment;
governance; accountability; corruption; contracting-out; international municipal,
bilateral and multilateral cooperation; institutional analysis, institutional performance,
design, implementation and evaluation of ID activities in LG in LDCs, and evaluations
of municipal development programmes; specific analysis of municipal development
programmes oriented to improved the “local government” and not “the urban
development” are in a lack. A group of references in these areas regarding LDCs
was analysed and developed countries-related literature was considered as well.
Hence, here we have additional elements to bear in mind for further research on LG
in LDCs: i) to study, describe and analyse these areas; and ii) to develop and
systematise information, experience and knowledge on how to improve matters
related to them.
In the case of the central-local relations, structure and functions, it is reasonable to
say that there is a significant amount of works describing these elements in a very
large range of different countries. However, almost no references on LDCs’ were
found on the issue of how to analyse them having in mind ID-objectives and this is an
important element to consider for further research.
The predominance of central government and external donors
The literature on LG in LDCs has the following characteristic- it is central government
or external donor- centred. The analysis, considerations and suggestions are
frequently made from the perspective of what central government or external donors
should do to strengthen LG in general. But, very little has been written and been
analysed on what should and can be done by LG themselves for their ID. This can be
an special consideration for the development of an ID of LG framework. Despite the
above mentioned characteristic, there are very few references in the literature on
what are the more effective and efficient strategies for implementing national
strategies for ID of LG in LDCs?.
ID and international technical cooperation
ID work addressed to LG in LDCs seems to be heavily influenced by multilateral and
bilateral donors, although, there are few works analysing this issue. We can
speculate that the success of much ID activities are closely related to the approaches
used by external donors in negotiating, designing, implementing and evaluating the
process of municipal development, institutional development, or institutional
strengthening of municipal/local governments projects. Further research is needed in
this area. Special consideration should be made here on the similarities, differences,
advantages and disadvantages of the work carried out by development banks (on a
loan basis) and the work undertaken by many different agencies, but especially
bilateral (on a non reimbursable basis) through technical cooperation projects or
simply by stand-alone cooperation activities.
Efforts are needed from the donor side to facilitate the study and analysis of ID local
government and municipal development projects. In this sense :
explicit consideration of municipal development programmes should be made
in order to differentiate them from the “general urban development projects”.
municipal development programmes should differentiate clearly their
components in order to facilitate the identification of ID activities.
there is a need for clarification of the real purposes and impact of technical
assistance and training activities incorporated as components of urban
development programmes or provided on a stand-alone basis. Are they really
ID projects, components or activities? Should all “soft” components of urban
development programmes addressed to LG be considered as ID?. Is there
any difference between clearly ID programmes or projects and “soft”
components of urban development programmes?.
there is a need for clarification on the nature and content of concepts such as:
i) institutional development of local government; ii) strengthening local
government; iii) municipal institutional development; iv) municipal
strengthening; v) municipal development programmes; and vi) technical
assistance and training for LG.
internal studies, consultancy and evaluation reports as well as policy papers
in multilateral and bilateral agencies are a valuable source of information on
municipal development projects and ID. The development literature does not
properly reflect these materials. Dissemination and more access to this
information is needed.
Is ID for LG better than institutional strengthening?
We can speculate that the use of the terms “municipal strengthening” or
“strengthening LG” has accustomed the related actors involved in the process of
improvement of LG to the idea of dependency on central government or international
projects to promote ID-related work. Experience of ID in Latin American countries
shows that in many cases LGs are willing and able to establish and follow their own
process of ID (tables 2.3 and 2.8). This is of particularly importance for remote or
small local authorities.
The concept ID of LG could promote a wider framework for the organisational
improvement of LG. ID in the sense that we are tackling it in this paper supposes
great involvement of the beneficiary organisations, but even can mean a process led
by a LG as a result of its own initiative, interest, and objectives. ID can be interpreted
and used as a process driven by the LG itself for its own interests, along or with the
cooperation (not the supervision or mandate) of external actor’s intention: state,
provincial or national government organisations; international donors. This
preliminary idea about the influence of the term ‘strengthening’ in the ID work in LG in
LDCs can represent an area for further research.
Institutional Development, what for?
What is the final purpose of institutional development activities in LG in LDCs? What
is the model or vision of LG that designers and managers of these programmes have
had in mind? Is there consensus in this sense between donors?; do central
governments have a clear idea of the LG system they want when they foster ID of
LGs?; do LGs themselves know what kind of LG they want to be when they agree on
the implementation of ID activities?. The literature does not tackle these questions. In
this sense, we can comment that ID of LG in LDCs is an area of disagreement,
complexity and ambiguity. Certainly a significant amount of the ID programmes and
activities addressed to LGs in LDCs have no clear vision of the type of LG institutions
they want, their mission and functions and consequently the final purpose of ID
programmes and activities. Possible reasons for this are: institutional or
organisational analysis and needs assessment as a pre-requisite for ID programmes
of LG are weak; the previous mentioned situation forces the implementation of preconceived ideas, “blue-prints”, regardless the environment where they are going to
be implemented; ID programmes are seem as a “technical problem” and not as a
“political issue”, which requires political negotiation and consideration of political
realities; as a consequence of the latter, political elements in the development of LG
systems are usually not considered important in ID programmes. Obviously, what
kind of LG system is wanted and how to share power, functions and finance in a
particular intergovernmental system are primarily political questions.
If there is no intention to analyse the above mentioned issues, then institutional
analysis can and certainly will be avoided. There will be no references against which
to compare the level of development, capacity, and performance. Certainly there will
not be a clear idea of the direction where to move the ID of the LG organisation or
system considered. Measurement and analysis of institutional capacity and
institutional performance will not be easy tasks to perform.
The definition of the LG system and intergovernmental relations wanted can be
considered as an important, crucial pre-requisite for sound and sustainable ID of LG.
We can speculate that different donor’s agendas; non-monolithic positions upon LG
in central government officials and national politicians; disperse and weak positions
upon the role of LG in LG officials and local politicians; and finally disagreement
between interested actors in local government issues and decentralisation in LDCs
about the aim of development in these fields do not contribute to the strengthening of
a supportive environment for the steadily development of LG and the design and
implementation of effective ID programmes.
Local Government (LG) in less developed countries (LDCs) has been of concern to
students of development administration for many years. In many cases this has been
as an specific subject, while for many others as an associated concern for the
implementation of decentralisation policies. There is a general agreement on the
weaknesses that LG has in Africa, Asia and Latin America in order to manage the
growth of human settlement, both in urban and rural areas. Many of these problems
have been widely studied from a country or regional perspective in the areas of
central-local relations, structure and functions, legal environment, provision of
services, training and finance.
New trends in the practice and study of development administration since the late
1980s have put LG once again on the agenda. Structural adjustment, government
reform, decentralisation policies and the crisis of service provision in LDCs,
especially in metropolitan areas, have focused the attention of central governments
and external donors on the question of how to promote better local governments, and
what should be done to improve their performance, capacity and capability. These
developments have been influenced by the general literature and experience of
institutional development (ID) and capacity building of organisations and institutions
in LDCs. This process has led to the emergence of a particular area of concern,
namely the strengthening or institutional development of LG. Although the literature
on LG in LDCs is extensive, few works are focused on this relatively new area.
Holistic approaches, frameworks and methodologies to undertake research and
development work on the ID of LG in LDCs are in short supply, although there are
significant developments in areas like finance and training for LG.
A review of the literature on ID of LGs in LDCs was carried out in order:
• to identify “the state of the art” and the contributions of researchers and
development agencies in this field; and
• to identify elements required for a comprehensive approach to ID of LGs
in LDCs.
The paper comprises three chapters. Chapter I is devoted to an analysis of ID and
other related terms in the literature from a general perspective, as well as the use of
ID as an appropriate method for promoting better institutions for development. The
project approach -a basic tool of ID- is reviewed and a set of guidelines for the design
and implementation of ID is proposed.
Chapter II focuses on the topic of ID of LG in LDCs. An analysis of ID practice shows
that ID has been typically oriented towards central government activities.
Considerations on the question of LG reform and ID are discussedd. The few
available studies on ID of LG in LDCs are reviewed in an effort to identify definitional
aspects and components for ID analysis. Conclusions from some experiences on the
provision of ID for LG in LDCs are also analysed.
Relevant considerations for ID of LG in LDCs derived from the first two chapters are:
• ID is an important element to promote better institutions in developing
countries, including LG.
• the state of art of ID of LG in LDCs is not well established.
• the capacity of external agencies to make effective ID interventions in
LDCs’ LG is limited.
• successful ID should include considerations not only about the
organisation per se, but also about its environment.
• successful ID requires sound institutional analysis as a pre-requisite.
• sustainability must be the test of ID activities. If ID is not sustainable, it
has failed.
• sustainability must be tested. Without the test the cycle of the ID process
is not completed; then, ID activities need to be evaluated.
• long-term commitment of ID efforts may be in conflict with political
• the need for demand driven not supply driven technical assistance and
training, as a fundamental element of an effective and efficient approach
on ID activities.
• cooperation with the private sector and fostering of new roles for different
actors involved with the development of LG, are an imperative.
• there is a lack of instruments and organisations able to generate an
appropriate and sustainable effort for the dissemination of lessons and
experiences of ID in LG.
• successful ID for LG requires coordination between the large number of
separate activities sponsored by different donors and national agencies.
Chapter III draws together contributions and proposals for improvement, considered
relevant for the analysis of ID of LGs in LDCs, drawn out from the general literature
on decentralisation and LG in African, Asian and Latin American countries. The basic
framework for this part of the literature review follows the components for ID
suggested by Davey (1996, 1989d).
Suggestions for further research are identified in Chapter III. An annex describes the
methodology used and identifies the major reference databases that were searched.
It is hoped that this study will contribute to current research priorities in the field of
development administration, especially given the attention that the resolutions at the
1996 Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II) in Istanbul placed on the issue
of capacity building and institutional development of local government.
The lack of an agreed definition on Institutional Development
Institutional Development (ID) is a term that has been used in many different
disciplines since the late 1950s (Berg, 1993: 60). A wide range of multilateral and
bilateral development agencies use it, and it is an important component in a very
large number of development projects around the world. However, so many years of
use of the term by practitioners and students have been not enough to achieve a
consensus on a standard definition (McGill, 1995: 63). On the contrary, in the
literature one can find many other concepts used synonymously with ID, such as: i)
institution building; ii) institutional building; and iii) capacity building (Blunt and
Collins: 1994; Cohen, 1995; Israel, 1987; McGill, 1993; Moore, 1995). Moore et al
(1994: 4) say that, paradoxically, there is no more agreement on a definition now
than thirty years ago, when ID first became a standard jargon term in the
development cooperation business. An illustration of this is given by Adamolekun:
“Capacity building is a new buzz term in the development
literature. It is most commonly used with the adjective
“institutional” (Adamolekun, 1990: 5).
The definitions, concepts, uses and applications of these different terms are varied
and overlapping, and the absence of agreement on their definition produces
undesirable effects. Cohen (1995: 407-408) has pointed out that this situation make
difficult important tasks, such as: i) comparative and quantitative analysis; ii)
achieving and sharing a common ground between government decision-makers, aid
agency professionals and academics, when they are discussing development issues
and initiatives.
What is institutional development?
Although there is no standard or generally accepted definition of institutional
development in the literature, most of the contributions in this sense come from
World Bank and United Nations publications, or their sponsored research work and
field experience. Hence the debate over ID has been strongly influenced by these
two international organisations.
Such authors have approached the definitional problems of ID in different ways.
Some have offered their own definition. Others provide checklists of attributes or
operational elements of ID. Some consider ID as if it were “organisational
development”. Others by ID, mean "that and more than that", although in many
cases they go in a way that is unclear, Segura (1992: 2) points out that there are two
extreme versions of the definition of ID: i) a narrow definition equates ID with the
process of strengthening individual government organisations or entities; and ii) a
broader view defines ID to include improvements in both public and private
organisations as well in the rules, regulations, practices, values, and customs that
shape and influence an entire society. In the table 1.1 we can see one of the more
commonly cited definitions, used by Israel in his study on the World Bank experience
of ID. This is a clear statement of the narrower more focused definition of ID. In the
same table, other more broad definitions are given by Buyck and Segura.
In the table 1.2, Buyck gives an operational list of areas for strengthening, which can
be considered the subject of ID and Esman (1989: 25-41) contributes to the same
argument by providing at least seven different components; Paul’s (1990: 16)
suggestion is also considered. Similar lists of ID components are offered (but not
considered here) by Gray, Khadiagala and Moore (1990: 2), and the UNDP (1991:
50). All of them, including Buycks’s, Segura’s and Esman’s interpretations, are more
comprehensive than that of Israel, which is more focused on the organisation itself.
Table1.1 Institutional development. Some definitions
The terms “institution” and “institutional development”, or “institution building” mean
different things to different people. Here institutional development is synonymous with
institution building and is defined as the process of improving an institution’s ability to
make effective use of the human and financial resources available (Israel, 1987: 11).
Institutional development is the creation or reinforcement of the capacity of an
organisation to generate, allocate and use human and financial resources effectively to
attain development objectives, public or private. It includes not only the building and
strengthening of institutions but also their retrenchment or liquidation in the pursuit of
institutional, sectoral, or government-wide rationalisation of expenditure (Buyck,
ID...includes not only the process of strengthening individual government organisations
but also the more systemic efforts needed to create an improved institutional
environment for the public sector. The goal of the second element is the creation of an
enabling institutional environment under which the incentives and the rules of the game
influence positively the behaviour of individual government organisations. Taken
together, these two elements of ID should improve the way the Government works within
a defined policy framework. ID is therefore concerned with “Government Reform”, as
opposed to “Policy Reform”(Segura, 1992:3).
Table1.2. Institutional development. Operational elements
Buyck (1991: 5)
internal organisation structures;
management systems, including monitoring and evaluation;
financial management (budgeting, accounting, auditing procedures) and planning systems;
personnel management, staff development and training;
inter-institutional relationships;
institutional structures of subsectors or sectors;
legal frameworks;
government regulations and procedures.
Esman (1989: 25-41)
changing the incentive structure for individuals and for organisations to induce personal and
bureaucratic behaviour that is in greater harmony with development needs
enhancing skills by training and education
strengthening organisational performance
reforming procedures or systems of coordination between organisations
increasing financial capabilities (the command over resources) by more effective mobilisation such
as better pricing systems, more user fees, and stronger overall revenue generation and use- better
planning, budgeting, and expenditure control
nurturing societal supports- for example, by encouraging formation of user groups, political reforms
that brings greater transparency and accountability, and greater participation of wage earners in
determination of their conditions of employment
cultivating new norms and values- for example, applause for successful new capitalists in postSocialist societies, condemnation of corruption, special rewards for managers using participatory
styles and delegation of authority, and generally granting honours and awards for socially desirable
Paul (1990: 16)
organisational restructuring and strengthening
building a policy and planning capability
regulatory and procedural reform
From this review, it can be seen that most of the recent work on ID supports the idea
that ID includes considerations not only about the organisation per se, but also about
its environment. This point is strongly supported by a recent survey of World Bank
projects, by Brinkerhoff (1994: 135), whose findings suggest that the proper
approach to understanding and analysing ID as a concept must include elements
other than the organisation itself. Brinkerhoff makes the following conclusions (Ibid.:
1994): i) institutional analysis (IA), the diagnosis which provides the basis for
subsequent ID, in World Bank projects is highly standardised, and concentrates on
factors internal to the organisation at the expense of external environmental factors,
particularly as these are reflected in the needs of stakeholders and customers; ii)
institutional problems are key constraints for the success of Bank projects, yet
because of their complexity they are not easy to analyse or resolve; iii) the
predominant focus of IA and ID is focused on the internal functions, processes and
operations of the target organisation(s); and iv) IA and ID that are broader in scope
will improve project design and impact. McGill (1994: 291-292) adds that the
traditional notion of organisation-centred institution building has to be widened to take
into account the organisation’s relationship with its environment. He continues (Ibid.:
478) by saying that assessing the environment should be seen as a necessary
precursor to strategic interventions in the organisation.
As shown above, the literature on ID and related concepts generally comprises a
series of checklists of things to consider. Unfortunately, the contents of these lists
differ widely and agreement about the concept of ID beyond this point is still nonexistent.
Blunt and Collins, however point out that despite the importance of having a clear
definition on ID, the need to continue the search for better strategies for putting it into
practice is a priority:
A variety of terms is used to describe the work that is undertaken
to address this aspect of development. Among them are “civil
service reform”, “institutional development”, “capacity
building”, “institutional strengthening”, and “institution
building”. These expressions are widely used, but still relatively ill
defined. Clarity of definition will help to ensure common
interpretation and usage. More important, however, is the search
for better strategies for bringing about what we broadly
understand these terms to mean (Blunt and Collins, 1994: 112).
We share this pragmatic position. For practical purposes, therefore unless the
contrary is explicitly stated, ID will be defined in this paper in its broader sense as per
Buyck and Segura (tables 1.1. and 1.2.). Additionally, the concepts “institutional
development”, “institution building”, “capacity building” and “institutional
strengthening” will be treated synonymously. This will provide a basic framework for
analysis and a link with topics related to ID practices.
Has ID proved to be an adequate method for promoting better
institutions for development?
According to Adamolekun (1990: 5) building institutional capacity is expected to
correct what has been diagnosed as the institutional weakness that constitutes a
“roadblock to development” in developing countries. Consequently, ID to improve
governmental performance is an important element of development activity, because
development cannot take place without the requisite organisational, technical and
social capacity to make it happen (Grindle and Hildebrand, 1995; Umeh, 1992).
How to obtain better and sustainable governmental institutions have been a central
question of development efforts during the last 35-40 years (Gant, 1979).
International cooperation agencies have been dealing with this issue for a long time,
but experience suggests that results so far have generally not been very satisfactory.
Moore et al (1994: 90) provide evidence, which is summarised in table 1.3. What was
wrong with the institutional development activities in these World Bank, USAID and
ODA evaluated projects and programmes?. Several possible elements could explain
the low levels of success of cooperation agencies in ID projects and activities: i)
agencies are relatively rigid and inflexible in their approach; ii) they operate in a
“blueprint”, “prescriptive” rather than a “process” mode; iii) they operate with
“standardised solutions”, in which projects are seen as mechanistic; iv) they are
bureaucracies with limited understanding and empathy with the environments in
which they work; and most importantly, v) their prime objective is to achieve the main
goals by which they are judged and are accountable, which is mainly financial
performance (McGill, 1995; Moore et al, 1994: 23).
Table1.3. Institutional development.
Evaluation findings of three major cooperation agencies
The World Bank’s review of its own projects, divided into “institutional
development” and “physical” activities, “have consistently arrived at the
conclusion that the physical components of programs have been successful
about twice as often as have institutional development components”
Israel, A (1987) Institutional Development: Incentives to Performance. Baltimore and
London: Johns Hopkins Press, page. 2.
A study of evaluations of recent USAID projects completed in 1985 and 1986
found that 40 per cent of projects had received a strongly negative rating in
relation to their contribution to improving institutional capacity.
Kean,J. et al (1988) “Synthesis of A.I.D. Evaluation reports: FY 1985 and FY 1986”,
Evaluation Occasional Paper, 16, Washington, DC: USAID
A study of recent British aid projects with institution building components
involved looking at five projects in depth, 15 Evaluation Summaries, and 50
Project Completion Reports. Each data set indicates that the institution building
components had been less successful than the other components.
Austin, C. (1993) “The process of change. a synthesis study of “institutional capacity
development” projects for ODA”. London: ODA, page. 11-27
Source: Moore et al (1994: 90)
Does the same situation shown in table 1.4 apply to other cooperation agencies?.
Certainly there is no evidence in the literature reviewed here of predominantly
successful experiences carried out by other cooperation agencies in the area of
institutional development. Berg (1993: 29-32) contributes to this argument with
qualitative comments about the reasons of the failure of many ID efforts, by saying
that: i) they deal with issues that are often vaguely defined, almost always culture
bound, and frequently threatening to one or other set of stakeholders; and ii) because
they aim, by definition, at inducing changes in human and institutional behaviour,
such changes may come into conflict with existing bureaucratic norms and values or
may threaten organisational alignments and coalition.
The project approach
During all these years, institutional development efforts have been provided through
projects and activities categorised as “technical cooperation” (TC) or “technical
assistance” (TA). Rondinelli (1983b,c) comments that projects have become more
prominent channels for international assistance, and as managerial arrangements for
implementing development policies, they have also come under increasing criticism
from development theorists and practitioners who argue that they have not achieved
their objectives and, indeed, have inhibited social learning and institution building in
developing countries. However, the problem may not be the project approach itself,
but the poor use of the approach (Honadle and Rosengard, 1983; Rondinelli, 1983c).
Given that in practice, there is probably no other approach possible, the challenge for
future ID interventions is how to make more effective use of it. Hence, we need to
review the problems that have arisen during the implementation of ID activities
through the project approach under the technical assistance and technical
cooperation umbrella. Table 1.4. summarises a set of four problem elements
associated with ID implementation through the project approach: i) delivery system
failures; ii) lack of an effective market for TC; iii) difficult work setting conditions; and
iv) deficiencies in the management system (Berg, 1993).
Additional evidence and facts on all the above mentioned categories are well
explained in the implementation and project related literature among which are
studies that concentrate on: i) implementation problems (Bowden, 1986; Honadle
and Klauss, 1979; Rondinelli, 1976; Shepherd, 1995; Thomason, 1988, Wolman,
1981); ii) guidelines and frameworks for the management and sustainability of
development projects and programmes (Brett, 1996; Brinkerhoff et al, 1992; Honadle
and Van Sant, 1985; Johnson, 1984; Linsfield, 1993; Paul, 1983; Rondinelli, 1983b,
1979; Tacconi et al, 1992); iii) learning from successful experiences in development
management (Brinkerhoff, 1992; Brinkerhoff and Ingle, 1989; Choguill, 1994;
Conyers et al, 1990; Jain, 1994; Maddock, 1992; Paul, 1992; Rondinelli, 1987, 1979,
1976); and iv) design, monitoring and evaluation (Chambers, 1994, 1978; Cracknell,
1988; Honadle, 1982; Maddock, 1990; McPhail, 1991; Smith, 1985).
Table1.4. Problems associated with ID implementation through the project
system failures
Lack of an effective
market for technical
Difficult work
Deficiencies in the
management system
weaknesses in project identification, design and implementation
hasty project selection, excessive complexity, inappropriate terms of
reference for TA personnel, poor supervision
the resident expatriate expert along with local counterpart, as a model
has proved to be unsuitable
with opportunity costs closer to zero, user agencies have little reason to
decline TC projects, to choose wisely among alternative projects, or to
economise during project implementation
donors have many reasons for urging recipients to accept projects and
often find themselves in competition with one another for access to the
encourages proliferation and redundancy of projects and dilutes local
commitment to their effective implementation
problems of morale and performance, low payment and poor working
high turnover, pursuit of private activities to make ends meet
limited interest in job-specific training
weak coordination and management
responsibility for management projects almost always remain in hands
of donors
preference to maintain tight control over the selection of projects and the
management of resources
large volume and increasing diversity of TC resources in many cases
overwhelmed local management capabilities
in many cases projects procedures bypass local authorities
projects are perceived as donor’s projects, not government’s projects
government’s weak ownership of projects leads to weak local
commitment and indifference to project Sustainability
poor coordination of projects and programs among donors
existence of redundant and even contradictory projects
Source: Berg (1993: 30-32)
There are other difficulties related to ID delivery concerning the usage of the
concepts of technical cooperation and technical assistance. Moore affirms that:
Technical cooperation is in principle distinct from institution
building. Yet the two have often been treated as near-equivalents
in the discourse of aid agencies: the prime purpose of technical
cooperation is believed to be institution building, and the aid
donor’s main contribution to institution building is believed to be
through financing technical cooperation. The futures of technical
cooperation and institution building are linked; and the future of
technical cooperation is currently seen as very problematic
(Moore, 1995: 91).
A central element in this discussion is the belief that outputs of capital investment
projects are usually infrastructure or some other type of physical asset, while on the
other hand, the outputs of TC projects are enhanced human or institutional
capacities. Yet this argument is questionable, because development activities in most
cases comprise both capital investment and human and institutional capacity. The
two are not mutually exclusive, even though bureaucratic traditions in donor agencies
treat them differently and agencies even tend to specialise in one or another kind of
development activity. These conceptions leads to the distinction between “hard” and
“soft” TA/TC; which is the base for the distinction between free-standing TA/TC and
investment related TA/TC (Buyck, 1991: 6). These considerations are of great
importance for ID practices, because TA is the principal instrument used by the
World Bank to promote institutional development (Ibid.: v). Table 1.5 gives a
summary of the elements that characterise the place of ID activities in the TA and TC
practices in development work.
Table1.5 Place of institutional development activities in technical assistance
and technical cooperation practices
Technical Assistance (TA)
Investment-Related TA
Free-standing TA
Called project-related assistance
Provided within the framework of an
investment project (a capital project)
Hard TA. Involves engineering and other
scientific know-how for such purposes as
feasibility studies, drawing up of bidding
documents, supervision of project construction
Usually is delivered with some equipment
included in the project
Called nonproject assistance
Provided for ID, or more broadly, for any
purposes not directly related to an investment
(capital) project
Soft TA. Involves training and provision of TA
personnel for such purposes as strengthening
management information systems, helping in
policy formulation, and conducting research
Usually is not related to equipment provision
Technical Cooperation (TC)
Operational Support TC
Institutional Development TC
Called direct-support TC
Aimed essentially at “getting the job done”
Personnel are “doers”. “doers” are said to be
filling substitution functions, historically
occupied line posts or were integrated into the
national administrative hierarchy
Sources: Berg (1993: 48-53); Buyck (1991: 1-8)
Intended to transfer technology, train nationals,
and develop sustainable capacity
Personnel are “advisers/trainers”. their basic
task is skills transfer they are brought in to
provide training, in-service and on-the job, to
target groups of local staff
The question of whether or not ID has been an adequate way to promote better
institutions for development is not easy to answer. We have enough evidence about
the relative failures of ID efforts, but at the same time, that is not sufficient to
conclude that ID activities are not an important element in promoting development.
On the contrary, probably nowadays there is more evidence than ever before about
the need of enhancing human and institutional capacities in developing countries and
in transitional economies in order to promote good government performance, the
development of secure and productive populations, democratic political systems and
clearly market-oriented economies. The problem at this point is therefore, how to
design and implement effective ID activities that learn from the past experience of
relative failure.
The search of better strategies for effective ID
Despite all the problems and difficulties mentioned above, ID is still a key element in
development activities. Moore et al (1994: 9) point out that there is no compelling
argument against making institution building a focus of aid policy. Difficulties and
realities of development in Africa, transitional requirements in former socialist
countries, the democratisation process in Latin America, and rapid economic growth
in many Asian countries are elements challenging the capacity of government at all
levels (national and sub-national) in these regions. Furthermore these countries are
now facing new development targets arising from agreements in International UN
sponsored meetings such as the Social Summit (Copenhagen, 1994), the
Environment Summit and the Agenda 21 (Rio, 1992), the Women’s World
Conference (Beijing, 1995) and Habitat II (Istanbul, 1996).
The international community is making calls for action in developing and former
socialist countries aimed at promoting democracy, transparency, accountability and
good government practices, to deeper in decentralisation processes, to improve the
quality and coverage of public services and to make citizen participation in the
decision-making process of development a reality. Cooperation agencies are now
including all these elements in their agendas and they will obviously permeate must
of the ID activities taking place in the future.
In fact, too much may now be expected from ID activities. There are too many aims,
a large variety of issues, new actors playing principal roles in development activitiesthe private sector and NGOs, many different agendas from the donor’s point of view
and a scarcity of resources to cope with all this. Thus, complexity is the common
element that will fashion the environment of ID activities in many different areas
during the coming years. Experience shows that in many cases obvious elements
such as complexity, especially in the political sense, were widely underestimated in
ID activities. Complexity is unavoidable and it must be properly considered. The
substance of complexity lies, fundamentally, in the institutional environment. Kinder
highlights the relevance of this element:
Much of the work on ID in the Third World has concentrated on
improving organisational efficiency to the exclusion of issues
relating to institutional effectiveness. Questions about the
organisation’s aims and objectives, its outputs, its customers and
their needs, the quality of the product/service and the
organisation’s responsiveness to changes in its environment have
been rarely posed, let alone answered (Kinder, 1988: 40).
An additional comment on the elements needed to consider for a better
understanding, design and implementation of ID strategies is that this concept is a
“low specificity activity”. An explanation of this concept is given by Israel (1987) by
saying that:
Specificity is composed of several elements. One is the degree to
which it is possible to specify the objectives of a particular
activity, the methods for achieving them, and the ways of
controlling achievement. Another element has to do with how the
activity affects the participating actors. These two elements in turn
define the degree to which actors can be rewarded for their
performance on the basis of results. I postulate that the degree of
specificity has precise effects on the actors and, as a result, on the
performance of the institution.....The hypothesis is that the higher
the degree of specificity, the more intense, immediate, identifiable,
and focused will be the effects of a good or a bad performance.
Conversely, the lower the degree of specificity, the weaker, more
delayed, less identifiable, and more diffuse will be those
effects.....Obviously, the degree of specificity is higher for some
activities than for others. Activities in high technology, finance,
and industry have high specificity, while those
concentrated in low technology and related primarily to human
behaviour (social or people-oriented activities) have low
specificity (Israel, 1987: 48-49).
We do not have a clear definition of ID, nor of the methods to achieve it, nor how to
measure or evaluate its progress. Hence, it is not an easy task to establish
responsibility for institutional performance in general, and for ID success or failure in
particular. Regarding these facts, Tobelem contributes with the following statement:
The development community in general and the ID specialists in
particular have effectively organised and delivered services to
help the developing world raise its institutional capacity to a level
more commensurate with that of the developed world. Nonetheless,
the development community has never been so concerned about
getting more sustainable and practical results for its ID efforts.
Problems are often so intractable there is some doubt that ID
concepts as now formulated can produce any meaningful
institutional change. Other practitioners, sincerely committed
to advance the cause of ID, recognise their inability to formulate
an adequate approach and thus to build a sensible strategy to
achieve commonly understood ID objectives. This situation is
further aggravated by the plethora of initiatives throughout the
world by international and bilateral donor or national
governments. These initiatives are often undertaken with minimum
coordination and by many professionals “borrowed” from other
specialities and sectors, which has led to redundancies that have
often confused and constrained efforts in various countries and
sectors. As a result, results even when positive, are diffuse,
dispersed, and cannot be generalised. All too often there is no
common understanding or agreement on basic concepts, the
yardstick to measure capacity, a typology of possible strategies. or
knowledge about the relationship between governance and
development-related ID. Moreover, there is no methodological
agreement on ways and means to carry out systematic capacity
analysis before development strategies are set and undertaken
(Tobelem, 1992: 39).
The above mentioned contributions by Israel and Tobelem are of substantial
significance for the understanding of the nature and characteristics of ID-related
Some suggestions for successful ID
Guidance for the design and implementation of ID is needed, especially bearing in
mind the conditions of complexity, confusion and disagreement that condition this
area of the development business. Grindle and Hilderbrand argue the following in this
Building effective state capacity means continuos development and
effective utilisation of human resources, constructive management
of task-oriented organisation, institutional contexts that facilitate
problem-solving, and economic, political and social conditions
that help sustain such capacity. These are inevitably long, difficult
and frustrating processes, as punctuated with failure as they are
with the potential for success. There are no easy solutions to
getting better government. There are, however, approaches and
strategies that are more effective than others and specific kinds of
interventions that are likely to lead to better results than many that
have been followed in the past (Grindle and Hilderbrand, 1995:
Successful institutional development must consider at least the following elements
(Brinkerhoff et al, 1992: 379; McGill, 1995, 1994: 483-488, 517; Moore et al, 1994:
32; Tobelem, 1992: 41-49):
ID is a long term activity, while requires external support, and this support
should also be long term.
ID is a “process” activity rather than a “blueprint” activity, and has to be
carried out as a exploratory rather than a “prescriptive” process. ID requires
flexibility and adaptativeness on the part of the actors involved and cannot be
programmed in detail.
ID is a non mechanical activity and requires adaptativeness to the specific
political, cultural and economic context, and effective external agents must be
familiar with this context.
ID needs to be defined comprehensively. No attempt to increase capacity
should be undertaken merely for the sake of increasing capacity only.
ID requires effective, proactive leadership, particularly in the sense of
promoting and obtaining support for change through the exercise of skills in
politics and in personal relations.
ID needs substantial commitment to deal with resistance to changes in social
relationships. ID needs alliances with stakeholders. It is important to gain the
support of those who affect, or are affected with by proposed changes and
the institution’s outputs.
ID activities need internal commitment (i.e. a national sense of ownership of
the projects). Recipient countries and institutions must be genuinely
interested in change in order to ensure success.
clear purpose is a pre-condition for ID. Institutional capacity analysis and
related ID processes should be activated only when a purpose has been
ID needs feasible objectives, and the design of a well timed strategy related
with the process of allocation of resources.
for ID purposes, essential elements in the stage of project design are: client
involvement, the scale of the project, leadership, monitoring and review
implementation of ID should be participatory (whether through execution,
advice or consultant). Special attention has to be devoted to the modes of
intervention, skills transfer and the predominance of executive, advisory or
consulting roles.
internal and external (including those from the supervisory environment)
constraints must be accepted as an inevitable outcome of the political nature
of ID (whether internal or external to the organisation).
ID needs the willingness to admit and learn from mistakes. A learning process
must be promoted.
ID requires more political support from cooperation agencies at all stages of
the projects. They have to pay more attention to political analysis in project
design and implementation and be prepared for more active and politically
effective support for the projects they fund. This requires more local
knowledge. ID processes should be compatible with prevailing cultural
never assume institutional capacity is sufficient. No innovation (something
more or better, compared to what was done before) should take place without
a thorough institutional capacity analysis and an appropriate strengthening
nurture the ID function. The potential to reduce or even destroy existing
institutional capacity is far greater than the likelihood of it being built up.
Therefore, Institutional Capacity should be constantly monitored, restored, or
augmented as the situation warrants through innovative measures. The ID
function should have the responsibility for recurrent capacity analysis.
do not engage in capacity analysis without also fostering enhancement. No
institutional analysis capacity process should be performed if it does not
generate capacity at the same time.
ID should be based on the concept of an iterative learning process with
regards to identified needs. Hence, additional analysis is required in different
stages. Mainly oriented to structures, processes and supervisory
environment. Additions (an even deletion) are the natural consequences of
exploration in ID. Exploration is the key to contemporary practice of ID
use one analytical tool. In institutional capacity analysis and ID work, the
number of analytical and development tools should be minimised ideally
linked to one that would include all management functions.
sustainability is central to ID. If ID is not sustainable, it has failed.
sustainability must be the test of development and sustainability must be
tested. Without the test the cycle of the ID process is not complete.
training should pervade all aspects of ID. Training should seek to achieve
practical outcomes clearly structures (following the functions being addressed
through ID). Training must be predominantly implementation oriented.
Good elements for successful practice of ID are certainly not sufficient, but the list of
suggestions included previously is a good framework for strengthening the analysis,
design and implementation of better strategies and activities of ID. However this list
needs to be supported by awareness of the following negative factors that can
disturb even realistic strategies of ID in the field (Berg, 1993; Brinkerhoff et al, 1992:
379; Moore, 1994: 32; McGill, 1995).
although specialists in organisational development may be necessary in many
cases, there is considerable disagreement about their usefulness in ID
activities. Governments, project staff and even donor agencies usually face
considerable information problems in selecting a consultancy service in this
area and establishing, measuring and evaluating its standard.
because ID rarely involves the expenditure of large sums of money, it does
not obtain the political support from suppliers and contractors that is often
enjoyed by major capital projects.
cooperation agencies are not very enthusiastic to become more deeply
involved in national politics than they are already used to.
new methods of delivering TA or TC are not easy to find, although they are
urgently needed.
the work and activities of many cooperation agencies have a strong
undesirable and damaging effect on the institutional life of recipient countries.
Institutional destruction can take place when skilled and experienced public
sector officials leave in order to work (in better conditions) for cooperation
agencies or in the projects that they fund.
Complexity, confusion, ambiguity and disagreement are common elements of the ID
world. Therefore, caution, awareness and guidance are needed.
Most activities undertaken under the name of ID in LDCs have involved central
government agencies (Moore et al, 1994: 10). Fuhr (1994:169) argues that local
development issues have remained at the margin of national and international
assistance programmes in most Third World countries. Nevertheless, there is no
doubt that many agencies at all levels of government in these countries need ID.
Government agencies that may require ID work can be found at three levels of
government: i) central core agencies; ii) sectoral agencies; and iii) decentralised subnational agencies. Regarding the last of these levels:
In many countries and sectors decentralisation of government
services and resources to sub-national levels of government is a
key element in restructuring the public sector. Usually the
objective is to bring decision-makers into closer contact with
problems and intended beneficiaries (improving information and
shortening the political feedback loop), or to increase
opportunities for local initiatives, or to reduce internal
communication and decision-making costs (reducing the time and
money costs of consultations and approvals from the centre). In
fact, decentralisation of public services, especially social services,
is rapidly becoming a major goal of many countries in the region.
However, decentralisation is one of the institutional reforms that
may have the highest potential for failure and distortion,
principally through conflicts among levels of responsibility,
authority, and control. Moreover, wholesale decentralisation is
usually ill-advised since --lacking adequate incentives and
resources-- it may lead to even greater inefficiency. The Bank
should try to ensure that decentralisation initiatives are carefully
carried out, considering not only the transfer of authority and
responsibilities, but also the mechanisms to provide adequate
technical assistance, management and financing to enable local
agencies to assume effectively their new responsibilities (Segura,
Paraphrasing Segura, ID work addressed to sub-national levels of government is not
only necessary, but probably more difficult. This is a particularly important
consideration bearing in mind the different tiers of government and the extent of subnational governmental bodies that any country may have. In support of this idea
McGill (1994: 422) suggests that the central role for LG in urban management is the
main justification for its strengthening needs; and Ljung and Dillinger (1989: 135) add
that given the importance of viable LG to the efficiency of developing economies, the
World Bank is expected to increase its involvement and try to improve its
effectiveness in strengthening LG.
General considerations on the literature related to ID of LG
In one of the first works focused on strengthening LG in LDCs, Cochrane (1982: 6)
made the following conclusions about the trends in the literature related to the
“improvement” of local government:
the literature provides details of the problems that local government must
resolve, but has too little to say about how to improve matters.
although a few case studies have produced rich insights, most of the
situations selected for examination are atypical, and agreement has not yet
been reached on a satisfactory method of comparison.
many of the standard works are ten to fifteen years old and are strongly
biased toward urban areas and developed countries.
little attention has been paid to important issues such as the number of
people employed in local government or the contributions of local government
to economic growth.
much of the literature has little to say about the development role of local
authorities in the achievement of national objectives or about the prospects
for expanding that role.
some useful work has been done on state and local finances, and results
suggest that, if local authorities do not enjoy a substantial degree of financial
autonomy, their existence is threatened.
some studies that have examined the political aspects of local government,
urban politics, and questions of community power have also underlined the
point that local governments vary so greatly that it is impossible to come up
with general solutions.
The most noteworthy characteristic of the literature in the area of ID of LG in LDCs is
that there is not much of it. Probably the first specific mention in the academic
literature about institutional development of local government or local authorities is
that of McGill (1994) who analysed the theoretical perspectives on ID and third world
city management, reviewing cases of organisational strengthening and building a
planning capability in an African LG. Apart from this work, in the LG related literature
attention is focused on issues such as: local government capacity (Campbell, 1995);
municipal strengthening (Davey,1989a,b; Fuhr, 1994); strengthening local
government (Cochrane, 1982; Yildirim et al, 1993; Slater, 1994); strengthening
administrative capacity of LG (Cheema, 1987); strengthening urban management
(Blair, 1985b); and urban government reform (Davey, 1992). With the same general
orientation as is used in LDCs, but in different contexts and conditions, Leach (1992)
has written on strengthening local governments in England and Gargan (1981) on
local government capacity in the USA.
In the case of ID of LG, as seen already in the general case of ID, different authors
use different terms to mean more or less the same- namely those elements and
actions that are necessary to develop the capabilities of LG in LDCs so as to
accomplish the management of local development in a responsible and efficient
manner. Definitional problems or discussions in this area were not encountered.
However, there is great scope for work in this sense. Finally, a substantial group of
work on local government reform or reorganisation dominates the debate about
changes and improvements in LG, in the case of both the developed and developing
countries. This particular part of the literature is now reviewed.
Local government reform and ID
Local government reform
The question of how to change, reorganise or reform local government in the world
has been the focus of many authors over a number of years (Brans, 1992;
Davey,1992; Huque, 1986; Siew Nooi, 1987; Slater, 1989; Tordoff et al, 1994). There
is a group of works, comparative in nature, including different countries and regions
(Blair, 1985b; Dente et al, 1988; Gunlicks, 1981; Leemans, 1970; Olowu, 1981;
Rowat, 1980) and many others studies covering individual countries such as
Bangladesh (Huque, 1985); Colombia (Uribe Echeverria, 1985); Ethiopia (Norris,
1974); Ghana (Akom, 1988); India (Kopardekar, 1989; Rajadhyaksha, 1985);
Malaysia (Afandi Ismail, 1989); Mozambique (Grest, 1995); Nigeria (Gboyega, 1983;
O’Donovan, 1992; Orewa et al: 1983); Russia (Boyce, 1993); Tanzania (Asmeron,
1984; Mutizwa-Mangiza, 1990b); Zambia (Chikulo,1985; Mukwena, 1992). The
process of change and reorganisation in LG in different countries is commented by
Rowat as follows
....local governments around the world have undergone structural
reorganisation to a remarkable extent. Even many of the older
Western democracies, where local self-government has been well
established since the turn of the century, have reorganised their
systems of local government.... Similarly, most of the countries of
Eastern Europe and many of the developing countries have been
reorganising their basic units of local government in recent years
(Rowat, 1980: xiii).
A significant portion of the available literature in the field of local government reform
and change is focused on local government in developed countries (Barlow, 1991;
Chandler, 93; Harloff, 1986; Humes et al, 69, 61; IULA, 1983, 1963, 1962; IssacHenry et al, 1991; Jens Hesse, 1991; Leach, 1994; McKinlay, 1993; Owens et al,
1991; O’Neill, 1990; Rhodes, 1981a; Sharpe, 1995, 1988). Substantially less,
specially from a comparative perspective, has been written and published on LG
reform, reorganisation or improvement in LDCs. But additionally, in this case the
attention has usually been put on general system structures, functions and on the
political process itself, which can be considered in the context of central-local
relationships (Adamolekun et al, 1988; Campbell et al, 1965; Sukhakanya, 1977;
Gray Cowan, 1958; Mawhood, 1983; Nickson, 1995; 1989; Wraith, 1972; Ruland,
1988; Siddiqui, 1994, 1992).
These works have made valuable contributions to the overall development of local
government studies and comparative public administration (Gunlicks, 1981). They
have also helped many governments to find viable structural arrangements for local
government (Leemans, 1970). LG reforms, reorganisations and changes, including
decentralisation programmes or legislative acts in LG systems, can be seen as an
effective way to strengthen local government, but in some cases these attempts have
been aimed at or ended up as a way of weakening them (Cochrane, 1982: 8).
A contribution to the last argument is given by Siew Nooi (1987), saying that as a
result of the local government reform in some African and Southeast Asian countries,
central or state control has increased over local government, and while local
autonomy or democracy have been identified as objectives in the restructuring
process of each country, they have not been realised; and in contrast, centralisation
of power has been enhanced. McGill (1994: 464) contributes to this argument, saying
that in Malawi central government retains the power of urban management, despite
the efforts of decentralisation. This general argument is strongly supported with
examples in the case of Africa (Olowu, 1987), Bangladesh (Huque, 1985); Ecuador
(Mangesldorf, 1988); Ghana (Akom, 1988), Latin America (Batley: 1987a,b; Herzer et
al, 1991); Malaysia (Siew Nooi, 1982); Nigeria (Orewa et al, 1983; Smith et al, 1981);
Sri Lanka (Slater, 1989; Tressie Leitan, 1983); Tanzania (Asmeron, 1984; MutizwaMangiza, 1990b); and Zambia (Chikulo, 1988, 1981; Mukwena, 1992).
This happened not only in LDCs. Rhodes (1981a: 111) illustrates this point with the
following conclusions about LG reform in England, based on the 1972 Act: i) LG has
not been reformed; it has merely been reorganised; ii) a number of the defects of the
old structure have been intensified, and the capacity of LG to carry out its functions
effectively has been weakened; iii) local authorities have lost functions to other units
of government; and iv) the changes did not consider the basic question of the
distribution of functions (and resources) between central and local government.
Reform and ID of LG
Reforms, reorganisations, changes and decentralisation programmes in LG systems
in LDCs could be part of ID strategies or programmes for LG or could help the
process of ID of a particular LG entity or a group of them; they can even be an
encouraging factor for implementation of great amount of technical assistance and
ID-related work addressed to LG. But reforms or reorganisation of LG and ID of LG
are not necessarily the same things.
Dente and Kjellberg make the following comment about the importance and
relevance of LG reforms, reorganisations and changes:
Few government reforms have been as widespread as the reforms
at the sub-national level that have taken place in the last two or
three decades. Anyone looking for a Western country that has not
experienced some local government reorganisation in one form or
the other, would soon become discouraged. There have, of course,
been other important institutional reforms in many countries
during this period, but hardly any have been as ubiquitous as the
reforms of the sub-national units and of the relations between the
various levels of government.
However, this common trend has its counterpart in the great
variation of its forms in different contexts. In some countries the
reorganisation has mainly consisted of redrawing the
administrative boundaries of the territorial units, with or without a
reshaping of their organisations structure. In other countries the
emphasis has been much more on a redistribution of tasks among
the various levels, most frequently combined with attempts at
reshuffling the financial relations between them. The impression of
variety is compounded by the fact that in some cases the
reorganisation has had a comprehensive character, its various
elements being considered, decided and implemented in a fairly
integrated fashion, while in other cases the process has been one
of piecemeal change, each reform being enacted independently.
Furthermore, this general trend towards reorganisation does not
preclude striking differences in the politisation of the process: in
some situations we have been confronted with a lively political
debate on the reform proposals, with ideological principles
pitched against one another, while in other instances the
discussion, if any, has been quite subdued and the reforms
seemingly uncontroversial (Dente and Kjellberg, 1988: 1).
In an attempt to make a distinction between genuine reforms and mere changes (and
reorganisations) with regards to LG, Kiviniemi writes:
The international literature on this point is clear enough: the term
“reform” implies conscious, purposeful, directed action. Reform is
a conscious change, or at least a conscious attempt to change. All
social and human activities have both intended and unintended
consequences. The initiators of change, that is, the reformers, do
have their intentions, but the real changes contain more than these
intentions. This happens at the least because there always are
social actors who do not have any defined intention concerning the
changes, even if they will later on be confronted with the
consequences (these are the outsiders). The consciousness implied
in the reform processes calls therefore for an analysis of the
actors, who can be grouped in three classes on the basis of their
intentions: reformers, opponents and outsiders.
It is easy, however, to find instances of changes in governmental
structures and processes which do not have any well-defined
subject. This happens because unintended and unanticipated
consequences can be the product of the progress of time and/or of
the cognitive limits of the intentional actors. More to the point,
macro-level transformations arise typically from the interaction of
several micro-level changes. For the time being the first
conclusion is that reforms are only one type of change. There will
always be more changes than reforms, even if the change brought
about by one attempt at reform can be less far reaching than
hoped by its proponents, or feared by its opponents (Kiviniemi,
1988: 70-71).
An illustration of the different sources for change in LG is provided by Pearce
referring to the British case:
The formal procedures of change have involved general
legislation, local acts, royal charters, orders by ministers, by the
Boundary Commission and by County Councils; some of these
orders have been subject to confirmation by, or to challenge in
Parliament (Pearce, 1980: 4).
Similar situations take place in the case of LDCs. Changes in LG occur, not always
with clearly defined purposes and strategies, and sometimes ending up as an
interference with local autonomy. They are promoted frequently by central
government politicians and officials as well as national political parties (Chikulo,
1981; Collins, 1989; Mutizwa-Mangiza, 1990a; Olowu, 1987; Smith et al, 1981; Siew
Nooi, 1987).
As the above quotations emphasise, ID understood as a reform or change must
always be a conscious, purposeful, directed action with a well-defined objective. ID
must generate intentional changes that can create reform at the micro-level, in a
particular LG organisation, or in a particular group of them, if a reform is to be
produced at the macro-level in a LG system of a particular region or country. On this
topic, Kiviniemi (1988: 86) concludes that: i) the concept of reform is not identical with
the concept of change; ii) reforms are intentional changes, and intentions always
refer to some subjects; iii) only a part of LG changes can be clearly identified as
intentional reforms; iv) the local-central relationship, and especially the intermediating
elements of this relationship, has become a key factor in LG changes and reforms;
and v) the central-local relationship and its transformation is a useful focus for the
study of LG reforms.
Despite Kiviniemi’s suggestion to focus the study of LG reforms on the area of
central-local relationship, and recognising that this is probably the most common
approach in the literature, we prefer to follow the taxonomy of LG reforms proposed
by Kjellberg (table 2.1), and through it to point out the necessity of considering a
wider scope that includes organisational and internal aspects in these reforms.
Table2.1. Types of local government reform
Changes in
Changes in
decisional aspects
Changes in
financial resources
Dente and Kjellberg (1988: 10-14)
Adjustment of
intergovernmental relations
Adjustment of
internal local aspects
structural reforms
local financial
functional and procedural
financial reforms
Study of LG reforms- necessary but not sufficient for ID purposes
The literature on LG reform is of considerable significance for ID proposals,
especially in the case of LDCs. Nevertheless, specific questions probably cannot be
sufficiently studied from the general perspective of LG reforms. Some of these
questions are: what are the capabilities necessary for local government to perform an
efficient role with more responsibility for the management of local development?; how
can this capabilities be best developed? (Davey, 1989a: i); how can municipal
services be improved steadily, and municipal institutions be enabled gradually to
ensure a better provision of such services?; what kind of financial and technical aidor what kind of sequencing and coordination between both- is needed to cover
immediate goals, such as improved urban infrastructure, and corresponding
institutional sustainability at the local level? (Fuhr, 1994: 170); and how can the
provision of technical assistance and training addressed to LG in LDCs be improved?
How to develop the capabilities of LG in LDCs?
The areas of ID
The questions posed in the previous paragraphs have not been tackled sufficiently in
the literature. There are very few specific works focused on this problem (Campbell,
1995; Cheema, 1987; Cochrane, 1982; Davey, 1989a,b; Yildirim et al, 1993; McGill,
1994; Padilla, 1986; Slater, 1994; World Bank, 1989). Cochrane (1982) considers
that the strengthening of LG in LDCs has to deal with the following elements:
intergovernmental fiscal relations. LG need elastic revenue sources, that
increase as the economy grows and that are not beyond the LG’s
administrative capacity to collect;
personnel management, considering: a) well planned horizontal or vertical
integration of personnel systems; b) adequate compensation and incentives;
c) a determined effort to make officials accountable for their performance; and
d) effective training of local officials; and finally
iii) allocation of functions. The division of responsibilities between levels of
government, considering even the size of LG. He also considered that new
institutional arrangements may be needed if local government is to be
strengthened and that the major obstacle to these reforms is the absence of
an holistic view of government that seeks to integrate the efforts of all levels
of government.
In his work on Strengthening Municipal Governments Davey (1989) points out that
the effectiveness of LG is conditional to the following elements: i) institutional factors,
of which he identifies five specific institutional arrangements: structure, functions,
internal organisation and process, staffing and financing; and ii) accountability, to the
electorate and the central government. He also analyses the main areas for external
(donors) interventions to LG ID, that include: improvements in central guidance and
supervision, in municipal management systems, in cost recovery and in provision of
credit for capital investment; reform in central-local relations; training; and provision
of rewards and penalties for municipal performance. All these elements, he
continues, are heavily influenced by the values and expectations of LG staff, by an
organisational culture to which history, custom, politics, and style contribute in
substantial measure. This is the most comprehensive framework encountered in the
literature for the analysis of ID of LG in LDCs.
These two approaches (Cochrane's and Davey's) together give a very clear picture of
the areas which need to be considered in order to carry out ID-work for LG in LDCs.
The crucial questions in relation to each and every one of the specified elements and
topics are: what to do? and how to do it?. The answers to these questions are
complex and involve competency of many different specialists. However, both
authors, Cochrane and Davey contribute with illustrations of the main problems in
each of the areas or components mentioned and provide guidance on general
options or alternatives to tackle them.
ID- more effectiveness and efficiency in LG
Slater, who considers the same elements mentioned by Davey, comments that
recent research in developing countries shows that under certain conditions,
democratic decentralisation can lead to improved participation and institutional
performance when accompanied by functional devolution and adequate levels of
funding. However, if performance is to improve on a sustained basis, there is an
urgent need to develop appropriate systems and procedures which will contribute to
improved economy, efficiency and effectiveness in local government. (Slater,
1994:1). In his study on strengthening LG in Sri Lanka Slater points out:
Successive evaluation of earlier phases of the World Bank
programme have shown that since its inception, it has been
working towards a number of very concrete objectives designed to
improve the efficiency and effectiveness of local authorities. Here,
efficiency is defined in terms of the relationship between inputs
(staff, equipment, resources, etc.) and outputs (planning,
budgeting, operations and maintenance), while effectiveness is
seen as the link between outputs and impact
(improved condition of assets, regular waste collection, effective
storm water system, etc.). While efficiency may focus on
productivity, punctuality, cost control and value for money,
effectiveness may be more concerned with the level of service
output, coverage and quality to meet policy objectives (Ibid.: 10).
Dependency on Central Government for ID activities in LDCs’ LG
In his work on developing administrative capability in Philippines LG, Padilla (1986)
illustrates mechanisms and forms used by national governments in LDCs for ID of
LG. From this example one can see a common way in which this process has been
interpreted in third world countries, namely as a responsibility of the central
government. On this Padilla states:
One of the central government services designed to strengthen
local authorities and increase their administrative capability
which has proved to be highly beneficial in the Philippines is the
technical assistance to local authorities being provided in terms of
action-oriented research evaluation, management consultancy,
and personnel development and capacity building (Ibid.: 56).
On account of their very limited financial resources, compounded
with a dearth of local technical manpower expertise, local
governments generally have to rely on the central government for
local administration improvement and the development of
administrative capability. Some local units take the initiative of
instituting organisational and administrative reforms with the
technical assistance of a consultant institution or agency, whose
services they pay from their own funds. But the more typical
arrangements is for the central government to render technical
assistance through any of several public agencies and institutions
whose main function, or one of whose main functions, is to help
improve local administration trough management evaluation,
consultative services and training.....What is being implied here is
that developing the administrative and financial capability of local
government is a pre-condition to achieving effectiveness in the
central government’s efforts to strengthen local authorities (Ibid.:
These quotations suggest that the term “strengthening” used in relation to LG
(“municipal strengthening” or “strengthening LG”) can be interpreted as a process
driven by external actor’s intentions: state, provincial or national government
organisations; international donors. The interpretation of the mentioned terms and
the way ID is provided through them does not suggest commitment, involvement and
participation of the local authorities.
World Bank concern for ID of LG
A key approach for strengthening LG, is that of the World Bank. According to Ljung
and Dillinger (1989: 130-135) the Bank strategy is focused on four elements i)
increasing local revenues, though reforms in local taxation and tariffs; ii) improving
efficiency in resource use, through reforms in budgeting, accounting, and financial
management; iii) strengthening accountability and coordination through institutional
reorganisation; and iv) introducing incentives for improved performance through
reforms in the structure of intergovernmental relations. These considerations were
presented in a series of workshops, sponsored by the World Bank, on strengthening
local governments in Sub-Saharan Africa (World Bank: 1989).
Alternatively Madavo (1989: 68) points out four areas, which have been common
targets of World Bank’s Strengthening LG activities: i) recurrent resource
mobilisation; ii) financial management; iii) the efficiency of line agencies; and iv) the
financing of municipal infrastructure. This is because, a strategy to build stronger
local government inevitably requires expanding their financial autonomy (Ibid.: 68).
Madavo (Ibid.: 69) also highlights a group of questions that reflect the central
concerns of the World Bank in its ID-work on LG:
what legislative changes will be needed to make decentralisation effective?.
what functions are best performed by which levels of government?
what revenue base can municipalities, in practice, expect to draw on?
what arrangements will be needed to train and then to retain competent
administrative personnel at the local level?
what systems of accountability and public participation will work best to
involve individual citizens and non-governmental organisations in
strengthening local government?
On the World Bank experience of ID of LG, Ljung and Dillinger (1989: 135) underline
the following considerations: i) institutional reform is clearly a lengthy process; ii) the
state of the art is not well established; iii) the capacity of external agencies to
intervene effectively is limited; and iv) given the importance of viable LG to the
efficiency of developing economies, the World Bank is expected to increase its
involvement and improve its effectiveness in strengthening LG.
The IULA-EMME strategy for ID
The Section for the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East Region (IULA-EMME) of
the International Union of Local Authorities, carried out a Project called
“Strengthening Local Government and Democracy” with the purpose of contributing
to the strengthening of local government so as not only to improve the efficiency and
effectiveness of urban service delivery, but also to increase the capacity of LG to
better exercise decentralised authority, sustain accountability at all levels, increase
the individual and collective participation of citizens, and enhance democratic values
and trends (Yildirim et al, 1993: v-vi).
IULA-EMME prepared a very detailed and lengthy framework for strengthening LG in
Turkey, which was developed for the Turkish LG Development and Reform Project.
Its basic goals and strategies are shown below. The Project was based on the
following assumptions:
Attention is first focused on the requisites for a democratic local
government, and the necessary measures for the thoroughgoing
development of local democracy. Then the basic systemic
requisites of an effective service delivery unit are taken up in the
consideration of the development of local service delivery, human
resources, financial resources and organisational structure. (Ibid.:
The basic objective of the Project is “Democratic and Effective Local Government”
and a set of seven basic goals were developed according to the first: i) improving the
status of local government; ii) fostering local democracy; iii) improving local services;
iv) developing the organisational structure of LG; v) developing the financial
resources of LG; vi) developing LG human resources; and vii) developing a
“management culture” in LG. As a result of this process they developed a set of
overall strategies from the detailed strategies produced for each basic goal. From the
selected strategies they prepared detailed action proposals. This can be considered
a good example of an holistic and comprehensive model or strategy for LG ID. The
overall strategies for each of these basic goals are shown in table 2.2.
Strengthening local government and democracy.
Strategies and goals of the IULA/EMME Project in Turkey
Table 2.2
Improving the status of LG
i) providing a new structure for central-local government relations that would strengthen LG; ii)
restructuring areas of decision-making and authority for a more democratic and effective LG;
iii) developing local authorities for more democratic and effective governance; iv) establishing
a more democratic and effective system of monitoring LG; v) winning the respect and support
of the public at large.
Fostering local democracy
i) fostering a democratic approach in local government; ii) improving the effectiveness and
conditions of operation of elected local bodies; iii) facilitating public participation in local
governance; iv) facilitating public monitoring of LG.
Improving local services
i) delegating the responsibility for the production and distribution of local services to local
governments units; ii) ensuring the decentralisation of local services; iii) ensuring adherence
to the principles of strategic planning, effectiveness, efficiency, responsiveness, and equity in
the delivery of local services; iv) ensuring that the monitoring of local service delivery
performance be undertaken by an independent auditing body in addition to any auditing done
by local authorities themselves; v) developing procedures that will ensure fairness and
objectivity in the distribution of services.
Developing the organisational structure of local government
i) improving the structure of LG organs; ii) improving the organisation of LG; iii) improving the
relationship between elected and appointed local government officials.
Developing the financial resources of local government
i) developing an equitable distribution of income between central and local authorities; ii)
developing local resources; iii) permitting LG to incur debt and developing regulations for such
purposes; iv) improving financial management; v) improving financial auditing and control.
Developing local government human resources
i) developing a modern personnel system for LG; ii) establishing a pre-service and on-the-job
training system, and a system for fostering self-development and increasing job motivation; iii)
creating opportunities for hiring quality personnel from the job market; iv) developing LG
values and ensuring that local employees identify with them.
Developing a “management culture” for LG
i) developing the concept of “management culture” in LG; ii) developing a strategic planning
approach in LG; iii) developing project management in LG; iv) developing crisis management
in LG; v) developing a holistic approach to environmental management for LG; vi) improving
the responsiveness of LG; vii) improving inter-governmental relations in LG; viii) developing
modern information technology in LG.
Source: Yildirim et al (1993: 1-77)
Some considerations on technical assistance and training for ID of LG
The decentralisation wave and public sector reform in Latin America have led to the
emergence of so called Municipal Development Programmes (MDP) in the region,
funded by the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). They
include not only financial support, but technical assistance and training addressed to
the strengthening of LG.
Table 2.3 Some considerations on TA and training for ID of LG
technical assistance and training are two aspects of a common effort- institutional
strengthening. The artificial and bureaucratic division of them in separate
programmes should be avoided in the future.
any financial and credit programme addressed to LG must be accompanied by
coordinated and synchronised technical assistance and training programmes.
governmental and private organisations which participate in financial programmes,
which in many cases are the sources of professionals for ID activities, need to be
practical strengthened on technical assistance provision skills.
fostering the development of practical and user-friendly methodologies for their
extended use and dissemination is needed.
methodologies for monitoring, evaluation and international comparison of technical
assistance for LG ID experiences in Latin America must be created.
charging for services must be an important criteria for assuring the sustainability of
technical assistance and training programmes for LG in the region.
more active participation and involvement of NGOs in technical assistance and
training activities for LG is recommended, although there is a recognition of their
limited capacity to carry out large scale programmes.
participation of municipalities in MDP has to be conditional on the execution of
institutional development Programmes.
on-the-job training, internships and visits as well as horizontal cooperation between
(regional countries) should be promoted as a way of improving the results of technical
assistance and training activities.
municipal training programmes are usually focused on technical and administrative
aspects of LG. More concentration on decentralisation-related issues are needed.
mayors, senior officials and elected members must permanently participate in training
programmes. This process could also include professionals and ordinary citizens.
institutional or organisational analysis and training needs evaluation have to be
improved and more intensively used for the design of ID programmes.
adequacy of supply of services (training and consultancy) to the real and effective
demand of LG is needed.
there is a bias in the services provided to LG in the legal (normative) and structure
a common problem in almost all the programmes analysed is that of coordination
between the investment, training and technical assistance components.
the coverage of ID programmes is still small compared to the real needs. Small and
medium size municipalities are the most supported.
there are contradictions between the areas of technical assistance provided and the
areas of need identified by the LG for strengthening.
the common areas of ID are: administrative procedures, finance, service delivery and
project appraisal. In some cases activities are carried out in the areas of
intergovernmental relations and distribution of functions between different levels of
government. A substantial lack of activities undertaken in the areas of social services
(especially concerning alleviation of poverty), local electoral systems, strengthening of
local democracy, accountability of LG and competitive tendering was identified.
Source: IULA/CELCADEL (1995)
In 1993 the Latin American Chapter of the International Union of Local Authorities
(IULA/CELCADEL), held an International Seminar on Technical Assistance and
Training Systems for Latin American LG. The cases discussed were based on
programmes executed in different countries of the region (Colombia, Venezuela,
Costa Rica, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia). The conclusions of the Seminar provide
interesting information for the purpose of improving the way that institutional
development programmes for LG, funded by multilateral development banks and
others international agencies, are prepared and implemented. As far as the MDP
Technical Assistance and Training Programmes is concerned, the suggestions are
(IULA/CELCADEL: 1995) included in table 2.3 above.
Beyond traditional technical assistance for LG
A recent contribution to the debate over ID for LG has been made by Campbell
(1995) in a study about the development of LG capacity in Colombia, and specifically
concerns the way technical assistance is provided and absorbed for this purpose.
Although he does not use the term, his work is specifically related to ID. He affirms
the conventional view indicates that a successful process of
decentralisation requires a massive technical assistance effort, led
by national level, to help local governments develop and upgrade
their capabilities: the professional and technical skills of their
staff, the equipment, materials and buildings required for
operations, as well as their organisational, planning and executing
functions. At the same time, a certain scepticism regarding the
effectiveness of this approach has develop within Colombia and in
the Bank (World Bank, L.M.). It is fuelled, in part, by the
frustrating experience of technical assistance programs that do not
seem to achieve sustainable results. Consensus on a new approach
that postulates the ineffectiveness of purely supply-driven
assistance programs is slowly emerging. The task of defining the
characteristics of a new strategy for local capacity development is
made more difficult by the insufficient information on the current
status of Colombian municipios- the effectiveness of their
governments and the alternative ways in which they have
attempted to develop their capacity in response to the new
circumstances. This report should be seen as an effort to address
both the scarcity of information on local capacity and the need for
a strategy that goes beyond the conventional technical assistance
approach (Ibid.: vi).
Campbell says that his suggested approach to capacity development is sketched out
as a concept, not a blueprint; further detail, delivery mechanisms, and program
components still need to be developed, suggesting at the same time the need for
further research and innovations in this area (Ibid.: 28). Campbell’s proposal is based
on three basic premises, detailed in table 2.4, which are closely related to the
involvement of a variety of actors (public and civic, central, regional and local) and
tools that go beyond traditional technical assistance. Summarising his novel view
point, the most important element for successful provision of technical assistance for
ID is demand driven not supply driven technical assistance.
Table2.4 Premises for capacity strengthening of LG
• Sustainable
development of capacity
at the local level is
possible only when
there is effective
demand by local
administrations and
• Demand-driven support.
that is technical
assistance should follow
local demand rather
than central mandates;
be tailored to local
needs, recognising the
heterogeneity of LG and
be provided in a
decentralised manner
• LG face obstacles in
their capacity building
efforts, even the most
motivated, then special
support activities must
be provided. This
justifies an active role
by one or more national
institutions although not
exclusively by the
central government
Source: Campbell, 1995.
• interventions needed to increase demand for capacity
development must go beyond technical assistance and
work, indirectly, by promoting innovative and responsible
local leadership and civic involvement. These elements
must become an integral part of any effort directed toward
LG strengthening.
• the effect of this would be: i) increasing demand for
capacity development; and ii) increasing capacity itself in
the form of better mayors and council members and local
• public affairs campaigns to educate and inform the public
about LG responsibilities (executive and councillors) and
the rights of citizens, should contribute to generate more
awareness, promote accountability of LA and motivate
citizen involvement.
• innovative and responsible leadership and management
should be rewarded.
• collection and publication of information on the programmes
and performance of LG are a powerful tool to improve
promotion of community participation and mobilisation.
• the challenge is to create the environment conducive to the
emergence and consolidation of a system in which multiple
agents (public and private) are positioned to offer support to
• a network of those institutions-organised at the national and
regional level- would: i) provide a forum for the exchange of
ideas and experiences; ii) promote high professional
standards- trough formal and informal means- in what must
be and essentially competitive setting.
• Working with new partners. a strategy for ID of LG should
not rely only on vertical relationships, but in horizontal
relationships, that is links among LG and between them and
non-public entities (NGOs, Universities, professional
associations, private firms, neighbouring LG).
• this is particularly important for small and weak LG. The
cost of capacity enhancing programs may be too high and
may justify some type of subsidy, probably in a form of a
matching grant.
• the creation of municipal associations or other types of
cooperative arrangements, while a potentially powerful tool,
may require external support (for example, to pay for start
up costs).
• dissemination of information on best practices and available
solutions for local governments can be considered a public
good that is currently being undersupplied.
LGs do not exploit adequately the possibilities to work in parnertship with new actors
(private sector, NGOs, Universities, etc.) in enhancing their capacities and providing
services. And this is an important factor for ID or capacity building of LG. In this
sense, Campbell underlines the roles that different actors can play to support ID
activities in LG (table 2.5). Additional considerations on the relationships between
LG, private sector and community organisations are included in Batley (1996).
Local level
New roles for different actors in promotion of
institutional capacity on LG
• focused on developing ways to leverage incentives already
being created in civil society.
• national authorities with normative responsibilities would thus
become enablers of possibilities, rather than direct builders of
LG institutional strength.
• whenever circumstances justify it, the centre should intervene
to remove obstacles in the way of LG.
• national authorities would move into action as a last resort
sanction against the most egregious malfeasance.
• in many cases themselves in need of strengthening their
capacity, should become partners and enablers of the efforts
conducted at the local level.
• in many cases themselves in need of strengthening their
capacity, should become partners and enablers of the efforts
conducted by LG.
• they must play an important role developing an strategy for
incentives and conscious efforts to multiply links between LG,
dissemination of information and provision of specialised
advise and training.
• civil society actors (at all levels) become the agents of change.
They must demand improvements on the information officials
and voters alike need to make informed decisions, and to let
voter taxpayers at the polls, as well as trough other modes of
participation, voice their approval or disapproval for local
• local government watchdog groups (local, regional or
nationals) could be mobilised to develop performance
indicators, spotlight and reward outstanding performance, and
publish results nationally and locally.
Source: Campbell (1985: 27-28)
A set of conclusions drawn from the study on Local Government capacity carried out
in Colombia by The World Bank and The National Planning Agency of Colombia can
help us with an understanding of very specific elements related to how capacity can
be best built up in LDCs’ LGs that have embarked on a process of reform and/or ID.
These conclusions are grouped in the following areas: i) effectiveness (table 2.6); ii)
leadership and participation (table 2.7); iii) management and innovations (table 2.8);
and iv) constraints (table 2.9).
Table2.6 Some conclusions on building local government capacity
in Colombia. Area of effectiveness
to different degrees, LG have faced the challenge of added responsibilities
in a relatively effective manner; making use of existing, but under-utilised,
capabilities and through conscious efforts to upgrade them.
decentralisation of resources and responsibilities without political reforms
would have been incomplete and, probably, not conducive to socially
effective results.
municipalities are making progress- sometimes significantly- in terms of
providing essential services to their population.
the increase in resources being managed by LG is starting to be reflected in
more service coverage.
the field work did not identify notorious examples of “white elephant” type of
projects, even among those municipalities more attached to old-fashioned
clientelistic practices.
construction projects that involve community contributions in labour,
materials or cash, and for which there is community supervision, result in
substantial savings with respect to similar projects executed directly by
municipal employees.
municipalities increased their attention to rural areas and poor regions
LG which are perceived to be effective by their communities are in a
stronger position to mobilise fiscal resources locally than the rest.
municipalities have made significant efforts in mobilising local resourcesincreasing collection on property taxes, imposing a gasoline surcharge and
betterment levies- linked to the expansion in service coverage and quality.
capacity can be improved without outside help, in both small and large
municipalities. Size is not necessarily a predictor of capacity.
economies of thresholds, if not of scale, need to be taken into account when
considering the specifics of a capacity development programme.
Source: Campbell, 1995.
Table 2.7 Some conclusions on building local government capacity
in Colombia. Area of leadership and participation
the emergence of local capacity is closely associated with the new
environment under which municipalities operate.
competition for political office has, in many cases, opened the doors to
responsible and innovative local leadership, which became the driving force
behind capacity building efforts.
local leadership- most notably by Mayors, but also by community leaders or
private sector individuals acting in the public interest- emerged as a key part
to the explanation of local capacity.
leadership was a sine qua non in the launching, and figured importantly in
the sustainability of capacity building.
in an initial phase of the capacity building process, the main challenge for
LG is to make effective use of the under-utilised capabilities existing within
the administration. This phase is associated with strong leadership by the
the most obvious way to expand the capacity of LG is by providing essential
skills not previously available. Expanding government capacity by drawing
upon resources outside the public sector is possible only when the
administration achieves trust and support within the community.
leadership plays a key but different role at various stages of the capacity
development process and in the process of adapting the municipal
organisation to more complex and diverse tasks. Launching them, requires,
mostly, drive and clarity of objectives; while consolidation and
institutionalisation require managerial skills.
leadership by Mayors can have a significant impact in the capacity building
process if they are able to manage conflicts with the elected members of the
Councils. This process can reduce effectiveness if they are rejected or
contested by other powers in the political local scene.
the presence of an active community increases demands for effective LG,
generating the incentives for capacity building.
the practice of working with the community is itself a learning process
through which municipal staff acquires new skills and motivation.
involving community groups, the private sector and NGOs in the operation
and administration of services is another way of expanding the skills
available to the local administration.
Source: Campbell, 1995.
Table 2.8 Some conclusions on building local government capacity
in Colombia. Area of management and innovation.
while in many cases inadequate or insufficient skills can explain weak
capacity, on other occasions the limiting factor is their ineffective use.
most LG upgrade the quality of their workforce, increasing the number of
professional in their staff. This is a difficult task for small and particularly
remotes municipalities.
in small municipalities the mayor becomes an “orchestra man” being in
charge of most activities that require a certain degree of qualification. This is
a condition of fragility for the sustainability of the capacity development
sharing professionals and advisors with other municipalities, the temporary
use and the attraction of out-of-town professionals to work for the local
administration have become increasingly useful strategies.
developing adequate personnel policies and formal training programmes
constitute the main challenge for larger municipalities attempting to improve
the quality of their staff.
organisational reform do not appear to be a matter of concern for smaller
LG that require very simple organisations based, to a large extent, on the
larger LG are able to implement administrative and motivational reforms in
their internal administration with great success. To be fully effective, reforms
must be carried out in a way that contributes to staff morale.
the development of planning as a managerial tool is a difficult task,
especially when it has to be a result of community participation. Single tools,
investment priorities and development plans have proved to have a
significant impact on generating organisational and community spirit.
capacity in the area of project execution is closely related to a strong
leadership, community involvement in projects, clear priorities, and an
effective municipal organisation.
successful execution is associated to selectivity (concentration on relatively
few priorities), specialisation (LG do not attempt to do everything with their
own resources) and involvement of someone outside the local
administration (NGOs, communities, private sector or neighbouring
Source: Campbell, 1995.
Table2.9 Some conclusions on building local government capacity
in Colombia. Relevant constraints
costs of capacity efforts can be very high for some municipalities, especially
if they are small and weak.
long-term commitment of capacity efforts may be in conflict with political
realities, particularly the short terms of office.
the lack of instruments and organisations able to generate an appropriate
and sustainable effort of dissemination of lessons and experiences.
the barrage of national programmes for ID that operate in an uncoordinated
manner is a very damaging factor for capacity building. These programmes
force LG to make inefficient use of their time and human resources,
overwhelming- rather than strengthening- their capacity.
Source: Campbell, 1995.
Strengthening urban institutional capabilities
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) held a Regional Seminar on Urban Policy
Issues, in the context of which, urban project design and institutional capability for
urban development were analysed from conditions and experiences in 12 countries.
In this framework, and considering the dependency of urban development
programmes impact on the institutional capacities, Cheema (1987) makes an attempt
to examine institutional issues in urban development and the effectiveness of
government responses to them. The considered issues are (Ibid.: 154-170):
coordination; decentralisation of decision-making; the rationale for decentralisation;
administrative and financial capacities of local government; roles of special
authorities; allocation of functions and responsibilities; community participation;
linkages with beneficiaries; personnel shortages and practices; training; monitoring,
information and evaluation systems; special project units; and project implementation
As a result of his analyses, Cheema (Ibid.: 170-178) suggest a set of actions needed
to enhance urban institutional capabilities: strengthening administrative capacities of
urban LG; improving resource base and financial management of LG; redefining
roles of special authorities in urban development; division of responsibilities;
streamlining coordination systems in cities; reorganising internal structures of special
authorities; ensuring community participation; and investing in training and human
resource development. Cheema’s analysis goes beyond LG in the context of urban
institutional capacities. A similar analysis is provided by Davey (1996). On one hand,
this element suggests again the need to consider of the environment in which many
LGs exist and functions. On the other hand, it is necessary to highlight the room for
further research and analysis of LG as a governmental and managerial entity, quite
separately from urban, geographical and social “issues”.
An holistic approach to ID of LG and urban management
Arguments have been presented in previous sections, supporting the need for an
holistic approach to ID of LG, integrating the efforts of all levels of governments and
enhancing the perspective of particular specialists working in different areas of ID for
LG in LDCs. In this sense, McGill says:
writers acknowledged the holistic nature of urban management
and therefore, the need for organisational arrangements to match
that complexity. The practice made no acknowledgement of the
holistic nature of urban management (McGill, 1994: 455).
He adds (Ibid.: 445) that institutional strengthening must focus on the holistic concept
of urban management and presents an alternative process which seeks to embrace
the holistic nature of urban management:
Third World city management is required to embrace institutional
development as an integral part of the embryonic urban
management tradition in developing countries. As such, a simple
framework can be presented to capture the essence of the
argument. First, there is the function and form of, and the ID for,
city management. Second, each has a strategic focus for its ID
intervention. Finally, these interventions are captured by their ID
imperatives, which can be tested. (Ibid.: 515-516).
In summary, McGill’s approach suggests that ID for LG in urban contexts is: i)
conditional to the functions and forms of urban management; ii) functions and forms
has a strategic focus for its ID interventions; iii) ID has to be an integral part of urban
management; iv) urban management in LDCs needs to consider three imperatives; v)
the first imperative is the integration of all the players in the process of urban
management; vi) the second imperative is the decentralisation of the structures for
urban management; vii) the third imperative is the sustainability of the ID of urban
management; vii) if ID is not sustainable, it has failed; ix) sustainability must be
tested, without the test the cycle of the ID process is not completed.
The following revision of the relevant literature on LG and decentralisation in
developing countries in an attempt to identify useful elements for ID of LG in LDCs,
has been carried out using as a basic framework the components for ID provided by
Davey (1989a), namely: i) institutional factors: a) structure; b) functions; c)
management, internal organisation and processes; d) staffing and e) financing); ii)
accountability: to the electorate and to the central government; and iii) external
interventions a) reform of central-local relations; b) municipal management systems;
c) cost recovery; d) central guidance and supervision; e) provision of credit for capital
investment; f) providing rewards and penalties for municipal performance; and g)
training. These elements provide the basic structure for this chapter. Some references
on LG and decentralisation in developed countries, Eastern Europe and transitional
economies are also included in this review.
Structure, functions and central-local relations
Structure and functions
It is common to find interrelated descriptions of the three elements, structure and
functions of LG, and central-local relations in the literature (e.g. Aarrevara (1994) on
Ukraine; Bubba and Lamba (1991) on Kenya; Chikulo (1988, 1986) on Zambia;
Collins (1988) on Colombia; Downs et al (1982) on Nicaragua; Forero et al (1991) on
Colombia; Gboyega (1983) on Nigeria; Han Kim (1992) on Peru; Lordello de Mello
(1980) on Brazil; McIntosh (1978) on Guatemala; Mutahaba (1991) on Tanzania;
Nellis (1983) on North Africa; Rondinelli (1983a) on East Africa). However, for
practical purposes, this section focuses only on the structure and functions of LG.
The term ‘structure’ here will not be used in relation to the internal structure of a
particular LG. This topic will be considered in the section “Internal management,
organisation and processes”.
An additional common pattern in the literature is the provision of descriptions on the
structure and functions of one or another LG system, commonly in a very structured
manner, as a result of their legislative or constitutional origin. Some works can be
mentioned: Afandi Ismail (1989) on Malaysia; Akom (1988) on Ghana; Ayeni (1994)
on Nigeria; Balbo (1993) on developing countries in general; Dejene (1991) on
Ethiopia; Downs (1987) on Nicaragua; Furlong (1967) on Peru; Harloff et al (1985) on
Argentina; Greenwood et al (1994) on Latvia; Liviga (1992) on Tanzania; Nigel (1990)
on Cuba; Nickson (1995) on different Latin American countries; Rust (1987) and
Wekwete (1988) on Zimbabwe; Saha (1987) on India; Schroeder (1982) on
Bangladesh; Schulz (1980) on Egypt and Iran; Souza (1994) on Brazil and Tordoff
(1995) on Kyrghyzstan.
Provision of frameworks for the systematic study and analysis of structures and
functions of LG in LDCs is in a short supply having in mind the ID process. In other
words, it is not easy to find in the literature is the answer to questions such as, what to
do if somebody wants to improve the LG structure and the distribution of functions
between different levels of government in a particular country? Where to start from?.
Davey’s framework (1989a: 1996b) is useful for this purpose. Complementary
elements related to this topic will be presented in the next section of this work on
central-local relations reform.
Davey’s key elements
Related to the structure of a given LG system, there are typically four factors to
consider (Davey, 1989a: 8-9): i) urban/rural relations; ii) population size; iii) tiers of
local government; and iv) problems of scale and fragmentation. Later, Davey (1996a:
57-61) complemented these factors with the following: i) relationship to national or
state government; ii) size and relationship to urban settlements; iii) organisation and
management; and iv) resources. All of them affect the effectiveness and performance
of local government in one way or another.
Davey (1989a: 9-15) suggests the following general group of alternative solutions for
the problems derived from the analysis and consideration of the factors mentioned
above: i) municipal amalgamation; ii) municipal boundary extension; iii) creation of
metropolitan authorities; iv) creation of joint bodies; and v) contracting out. He later
added to this list the following factors: i) inter-municipal cooperation; and ii)
reorganisation of metropolitan governments on a two tier basis (Davey, 1996c: 101).
Similar suggestions are provided by Bahl and Linn (1992). LG structure can to some
extent can be related to size, and, to the question of territorial fragmentation (Ibid.: 8182).
On the evaluation of experiences of metropolitan governments with alternative
structures Bahl and Linn (Ibid.: 411-412) say that each form of structure has its own
advantages and disadvantages and one could make the case for each form being
optimal, depending on the criteria used for evaluation and on whether one views the
situation from the vantage point of central or local government. But in the case of LG
in LDCs, a jurisdictionally fragmented structure seems to be least suited, in which
case reforms have been proposed to deal with the problems of coordination, uniform
planning, and service provision (Ibid.: 419). In their opinion (Ibid.: 411-412), questions
such as, how does one evaluate the structure of LG in a metropolitan area? what
goals should be most aggressively sought in any reform of the structure? which of the
commonly used forms of horizontal relations best satisfies the norms for a good
structure; can be best answered using the following criteria for evaluation: i) economic
efficiency; ii) technical efficiency; iii) equity; iv) cost containment; and v) autonomy
(Ibid.: 412-421).
Davey’s key elements
Clearly stated functions and responsibilities of local government are a necessary but
not sufficient condition for effective and good performance. In this sense it is
necessary to consider the following factors (Davey, 1989a: 15-22 ): i) the range of
local functions; ii) demarcation and allocation of functions; iii) suitability of functions;
iv) essential functions; v) construction vs. operation and maintenance. A classical
management approach suggests that responsibility should be clearly defined. In a
situation in which everyone is responsible, no one may really accept responsibility,
and it is hard to hold anyone to account (Ibid.: 16).
Framework for the analysis of functions
As an analytical tool a group of considerations on functions of urban and local
governments provided by Davey (1996a: 48-99) need to be considered for ID
purposes, as follows:
rank of tasks that urban government undertake generally, or at least
frequently: i) provision of services; ii) regulation of public behaviour; iii)
planning and coordination of development.
core of tasks that are normally performed by local government.
variable functions, aside from the municipal core, which vary widely within the
public sector.
exclusive and overlapping functions.
patterns of functional responsibility.
theoretical approaches to the distribution of functions between levels of
problems, which can arise as a result of functional fragmentation.
criteria for determining the minimum range of tasks which need continuous
coordination in an efficient response to urban growth.
alternatives approaches to functional integration.
How to change functions between levels of government?
A general approach for the restructuring of government functions has been suggested
by Bird (1990: 281-283) in the following sequence:
few, if any, countries can contemplate a complete ‘clean slate’ approach to the
assignment of functions and finances to different levels and agencies of
government, but almost every country could gain from reviewing the
assignment question.
such reviews can facilitate the adjustment of historically-determined
governmental structures so that they can deliver services more efficiently in
the changed circumstances of today.
the first step needed to improve the allocation of scarce resources in the local
government sector of most countries is to improve the information basis
available to managers concerned with the services that such governments
deliver. There are all too many countries in which at present no one really has
any consistent idea of the size, structure and trends of the subnational sector,
let alone of its diversity. This information should be updated periodically (often
on a sample basis) as part of the regular work of national data collection.
until this essential step is taken, most discussion of subnational
intergovernmental finance will continue to be conducted in an informational
when at least a roughly accurate picture of current reality is available, the next
step is to decide what can and should be done to improve matters. This is the
moment for consideration of different structural and functional alternatives,
allocation or reallocation of functions, etc. This analysis has to be undertaken
considering specific circumstances and policy objectives in the country in
question and having detailed and specific references and knowledge of how
the existing governmental system is structured and actually works.
even if the required information is available, the right questions asked and
acceptable answers obtained, there remains the most difficult part of all:
it is essential to provide adequate institutional support to the involved
government agencies, especially to LG, and monitor their performance.
Reform of central-local relations
The question of central-local relations is very closely related to the issues of control,
autonomy and political influence. The appropriate consideration of these elements can
support the effort of institutional analysis of a given LG system addressed to ID tasks.
Regarding controls, Davey (1989a: 56-57) points out factors that are necessary to
consider and Pasteur (1996: 105) provides a categorisation of LG by their degree of
A key question is what should be done in order to improve central-local relations?. Not
having found clear and precise guidelines to answer it in the LDC-related literature, we
reviewed an attempt made by Chester (1951) in the case of England and Wales. In
this sense he (Ibid.: 323-324) suggests the consideration of the following elements: i)
what are the facts about central-local relations? (what are the legal powers and the
kind of grants, and how have the powers and grants been used?; ii) what are the
general lessons to be drawn from this experience?; iii) what should be the relations
between central and local government?; iv) what is the system of central-local
relations required to achieve? and, v) what are the circumstances in which the system
has to operate?. These elements can provide the general framework for the analysis
of the structure and functions of a LG system and the central-local relations in any
Valuable lessons from developed countries’ experience in central-local relations,
especially UK and USA, can be of great value for learning purposes. In this sense, the
following references can be mentioned on the analysis of central-local relations in the
UK (Rhodes,1981: 33-34); LG reorganisation (Brans, 1992; Delafons, 1994; 1993;
Garner, 1995); LG autonomy in USA and UK (Wolman et al, 1990); LG structures in
UK and USA (Boyne, 1992b); LG, population size and economies of scale (Boyne,
1995); fragmentation and LG costs (Boyne, 1992a); restructuring LG in the UK in the
1990s (Cochrane, 1991); LG functions (Norton, 1986); parties and politics in centrallocal relations (Gyford, 1986); professionalism, policy and central-local relations
(Laffin, 1986a, 1986b); and the role of the judiciary system in the central-local
relations (Grant, 1986).
Finally, a group of general conclusions on intergovernmental relations but relevant for
the analysis of central-local relations in LDC is provided by Bird (1990):
intergovernmental relationships both vertical (between levels) and horizontal
(within levels) are matters of concern to anyone interested in the efficient and
effective operation of the public sector as a whole.
the key issue in intergovernmental relations is the same everywhere- the
assignment of functions and finances to different levels of government on one
hand, on the other, the same process can be seen as the allocation of
authority and responsibility for public sector decisions among different (and
possibly conflicting) power centres.
how questions of governmental structure are resolved in practice in any
country reflects both the resolution of the myriad of political forces currently at
play in that country and its past history.
finance is at the heart of intergovernmental matters in all countries.
countries assign more expenditure functions to subnational governments than
can be financed from the revenue sources allocated to those governments,
therefore LG are always dependent on central government transfers.
Central-local relations, decentralisation and ID
Central-local relations reform in LDCs, should be analysed in the framework of
decentralisation policies and processes. Contributions in this sense are given in
relation to the nature, objectives, rationale, methods and forms of decentralisation
(Cheema and Rondinelli, 1983; Conyers, 1986, 1984, 1983; United Nations, 1962);
the attitudes and behaviour of central government officials on decentralisation and LG
(Chester, 1951; Mathur, 1983; Rondinelli, 1983a); resistance of central government
bureaucracies and political leaders to the transfers (Rondinelli, 1983a); ambiguity of
decentralisation policies (Rhodes, 1981b; Rondinelli, 1983a); decentralisation, LG and
organisation theory (Friedman,1983); and ‘new approaches to intergovernmental
relation’ (Lordello de Mello, 1985a). Then, successful implementation of ID activities
can be related, although not only, to the successful implementation of decentralisation
efforts. Rondinelli (1990) detailed a group of factors affecting implementation of
decentralisation in LDCs, which can be considered an useful tool for the analytical
framework of ID programmes. A summary of these factors is presented in table 3.1.
Further research in the areas of structure, functions and central-local
relations reform.
Elements for further research in the area of structure and functions of a LG system
and in central-local relations, from the point of view of ID tasks, could be: i) what
elements need to be considered to improve the structure of a LG system and how to
implement them?; ii) what are the main restrictions and opportunities to implement
structural and functional reforms?; iii) how to give foundation (economical, financial
and administrative) to structural and/or functional reform proposals? and how to
consider the political factors of the process?; iv) how to decide what functions
correspond to what level of government?; v) how to transfer functions from one level
to another; what are the needed procedures, sequencing and timing of the transfers;
vi) what kind of transfer is worthwhile? by requirement of each LG, by unilateral
decision of the central government? to all the LG at once, or in a one-by-one LG
basis; vii) what kind of conditions are necessary before the transfer is initiated and
finalised?; viii) what are the expected scenario by different levels of government once
the transfer is over and the functions are operated by the LG?; ix) the influence of
politics in LDCs on the choice of LG structure and functions; x) relations between
national and local services; xi) management and administrative elements affecting any
structural and functional alternative; xii) how to design and implement reforms of
central-local relations?.
Table3.1. Factors supporting successful implementation of decentralisation
strong political commitment and support from national leaders
acceptance by political leaders of participation by other groups
effective channels of political participation for citizens
central government capacity to provide support to local organisations
appropriate allocation of functions between central and decentralised
organisations; concise and definitive decentralisation laws, regulations
and directives
flexible arrangements for reallocating functions based on performance
clearly defined procedures for participation of local officials and citizens
strong communication linkages between the central government and
decentralised units
changes in attitude by central government officials
effective means of overcoming resistance or eliciting support of local
a minimum level of trust and respect between government officials and
strong leadership in local administrative units and nongovernmental
transfer of sufficient authority for decentralised organisations to carry out
transfer of sufficient financial resources or authority to raise revenue
training programs in decentralised organisations
adequate physical infrastructure at local levels
Rondinelli (1990: 68)
Internal management, organisation and process.
Davey’s key elements
If there is an area of LG activities in LDCs that has been very little analysed, this is it.
A very complex element in the daily life of local government is its management,
organisation and internal processes, including (Davey, 1989a: 22): i) location of
executive authority, and its interrelationship with the legislative body; and ii)
management of technical agencies (departments, tasks, LM). To these factors we
need to add: executive-legislative relations; management style, planning and
programming; budgeting and financial control; dealings with the public; delegation and
decentralisation (Ibid.: 26-34). Some additional works that consider internal structure
and organisation of LG in a broader context of LG are Aarrevara (1994); Bubba et al
(1991); Herzer et al (1991). and a case study of local government management in
Nigeria is given by O’Donovan (1992).
The Urban Management Programme
Probably the most comprehensive reference on the specific issues of management,
internal organisation and processes in LG in LDCs is provided by Pasteur (1996),
which includes a large number of considerations and variables which are of a crucial
relevance for institutional development activities. Together, they provide a useful
analytical framework and we can speculate that they should be very helpful in carrying
out institutional analysis for ID.
Executive and political elements
Executive and political factors will affect any institutional process. Basic
considerations for the analysis of the management and organisation of LG are
provided by Pasteur (Ibid.: 107-156) in relation to: i) the analysis of the executive
structure of a LG; ii) a classification of types of executive authority in LDCs’ LG; which
can help to analyse the question, who formally carries out the executive authority in a
LG?; iii) the nature of its executive structure; iv) the types of political and
administrative leadership , which is a very substantial element for the introduction and
sustainability of changes and reforms in any organisation; and v) elements for the
improvement of the executive structure of LG, considering political and administrativemanagerial aspects.
Process, internal structure and style elements
These are very detailed elements of the internal managerial and organisational
elements of a LG. Their analysis is almost absent in the literature on LG in LDCs.
Pasteur (Ibid.: 129) categorises the variables for analysis of the processes and
structures which support the planning and management processes in LG as: i) intraagency management processes; ii) intra-agency management structures; iii) interagency management processes and structures; iv) effectiveness of formal systems
and factors affecting effectiveness; v) informal style of decision-making and
management. He also provides recommendations regarding: i) strategic policy
direction, planning process and structure; ii) budgets, planning, performance
improvements and control; iii) strategic planning and management styles (Ibid.: 135141).
Local government internal structure and form
The consideration of the structural form of local government organisational units and
the elements of its management are of a great importance for ID purposes. Nyamu
gives an illustration of the problems that an inappropriate structure in LG can cause;
another example of self-inflicted problems in African city
governments emerges from their tendency to structure their
operational departments on central government models. (Nyamu,
1985: 170).
Pasteur (1996; 141-146) presents a group of elements for the consideration of the
internal structure of LG: i) tiers of structure; ii) departmental management; iii)
departments under special boards; semi-autonomous departments; iv) LG foundations
and trusts; v) LG enterprises or companies. Cheema (1988) provides a similar
analysis on organisational structures for the management of services for urban poor.
Additionally he (Ibid.) has stated a set of considerations on institutional issues of the
provision of urban services: i) one of the most crucial constraints in managing urban
services has been institutional; ii) government and private organisations often lack the
capacity to cope with the severe urban service deficiencies; and iii) policies and
programmes often cannot be effectively implemented because of administrative and
institutional constraints.
Other organisational considerations
The analysis of the organisational structure of a LG with ID purposes should consider
additionally, as part of the environmental analysis, external agencies or organisations
that are involved with the delivery of services in the same jurisdiction. Coordination of
activities, sharing of responsibilities and resources can be legitimate objectives of this
analysis. In this sense, in addition to the different directly central or state local offices,
one could consider the following: i) national or state public corporations; ii) statecontrolled mixed economy companies; iii) state-private trusts (Pasteur: 1996; 145146).
Organisation and management of services
This is a very specific element in the internal organisation of a LG and it is related to
the service delivery and functional responsibilities of this level of government. It should
include not only consideration of the technical elements that differentiate the
organisation and management of different services, such as fire protection, primary
education, primary health care, business promotion or others; but also the
consideration of internal services such as: procurement, external relations or public
relations, photocopying, etc. We consider that this is a matter for specific specialists
who need to be present at the time ID activities are planned, implemented and
evaluated. Additional comments on the organisation and management of services in
LG in LDCs are considered in Rondinelli (1988: 27-28), where he argues that the
growing need for services in cities in LDCs has to be met through: i) rapid and
substantial increases in central or municipal government expenditure; and ii)
improving organisational arrangements and administrative capacity. Rondinelli (Ibid.)
provides a group of major elements to consider regarding organisational and
administrative issues. Case of study on the organisation and management of services
on education, water and waste disposal are provided by Amis (1992) on Uganda;
Batley (1992a,b) on Brazil, (1992d,e) on Mexico and (1992c) on India; Norris et al
(1992) on Malaysia; and Pasteur (1992) on Zimbabwe.
Management in local government
The study of management in LG in LDCs as an specific subject has not attracted
research work during the last thirty years. For this reason, we mention some
references related to LG in developed countries that could help to understand the
specificity of this area, as well as promote and stimulate further research in LDCs’
LGs. These works are addressed to the purposes, conditions and tasks of
management of LG (Stewart: 1971, 1988; Clark et al: 1990); to the achievement of
excellence in LG management using the following criteria (Barbour et al, 1994):
political relationship; structure; mission, goals and competence; values; employee
orientation; autonomy and entrepreneurship; closeness to citizens and action
orientation; to the effectiveness of local government managers (Anderson et al, 1983);
and to the managerial leadership in LG (Brenna et al, 1993)
Strengthening administrative capacities of urban LG
In the context of the formulation and implementation of urban development policies
and programmes Cheema says:
The role of local governments in planning and managing urban
development needs to be increased in order to facilitate citizen
participation and decentralised coordination, and to ensure
adequate maintenance of the existing and new infrastructure and
services (Cheema, 1987: 171).
He suggests (Ibid.) an approach for the strengthening of administrative capacities of
urban LG: i) the delineation of the present administrative capability profile-based
technical and managerial skills of the staff, internal organisation, past performance,
control over recruitment and transfer of personnel; ii) identification of administrative
requirement profile vis-a-vis tasks and functions to be assigned to urban LG; and iii)
planning for administrative support to bridge the gap. Specific considerations on
human resources management, the responsibility for capital works and the need of
improving internal management of LG through structural reform are also mentioned.
Further research
A set of questions for further research in relation to the ID of internal management and
organisational processes in LG in LDCs include: what are the current management
practices in LG in LDCs?; what are the most suitable managerial and organisational
practices and tools for LDCs’ LG conditions?; what factors determine and influence
the internal organisation of a LG?; how are functions such as programming, budgeting
and financial control performed and how can they be improved?; what is the dominant
management style in different countries and regions of the world, and what are their
outputs?; how does LG deal with the public?; how are technical agencies of LG
managed?; how to improve relations between the executive and legislative branches?;
what is the impact of technological developments in the management and
organisation of LG?, and how to improve the organisation and management of
services provided by LG?.
Works related to management tools in municipal government (Poister et al: 1995,
1989; Poister et al: 1984) and budgeting/management tools in state governments
(Botner: 1985) in the United States; and related to organisation theory and LG in the
UK (Haynes, 1980) and USA (Kirlin, 1993) can provide valuable contribution to take
into consideration for further research in this area.
Staffing, human resources and training
Staffing and human resources
The most frequently cited aspect related to human resources is that most LG in LDC
suffer from an acute shortage of skilled, trained technical and managerial personnel at
all levels (Bubba et al, 1991; Cheema, 1988; Downs, 1987; Velasquez, 1991;
Rondinelli, 1983; United Nations, 1985; Vengroff and Ben Salem, 1992; Werlin, 1990).
Eddison, et al (1993: 45) say that until recently human resource development for local
government management was very unstructured even in the most developed
countries. Useful references for ID purposes in the area of human resources are the
works of United Nations on local government personnel systems (1966) and local
government training (1968); O’Donovan on organisational behaviour in local
government (1994); and Eddison et al (1993), with the sponsorship of the Eastern
Mediterranean and Middle East Chapter of the International Union of Local Authorities
(IULA-EMME), which provides a version of human resources management in LG for
the Turkish case.
Davey’s key elements
Related to the problems and possible solution to the staffing and human resources
management of local government, the elements to be considered are (Davey, 1989a:
35-40): i) basis or systems of employment; ii) the location of responsibility for
appointment, discipline, promotion and termination of service; iii) control of
establishment and conditions of service; iv) training and professional organisation.
Complementary analysis on these elements can be found in Norris (1996).
The contribution of the United Nations
The United Nations published a comparative study on the personnel systems of 27
countries all over the world, which identified three different systems in operation
(United Nations, 1966: 7-8): i) separate personnel system for each local authority; ii)
unified local government personnel system; iii) integrated national and local services.
Suggestions for the use and implementation of each of the systems accompany their
description. An analysis of these systems is provided also by Norris (1996) and
Tressie Leitan (1978) provided an analysis of the unified LG service in Sri Lanka. A
set of requisites for a sound personnel system is presented and a group of elements
to take into consideration, when designing a LG personnel system and statutory
models for the introduction of different systems of LG personnel are suggested for
their adaptation to the conditions of particular countries (United Nations, 1966: 24, 51,
The organisational
management in LG
O’Donovan (1994: v) highlights the need to examine the organisational behaviour
aspects of the changes in the LG environment, with the aim of increasing LG officer’s
personal and organisational effectiveness. Although not specifically addressed to LG
in LDCs, her study is written with a general orientation, so its contents and ideas can
be equally considered in the LDCs context. The key issues of O’Donovan’s proposal
(Ibid.: 1994) addressed to local government managers can be summarised as follows:
i) organisational culture; ii) understanding myself as a manager; iii) the importance of
group processes; iv) recruitment and selection; v) motivation and job design; vi)
performance appraisal and management; vii) management development and the
individual; viii) the management of change.
Some conclusions on human resources management and ID
From these considerations some speculative conclusions can be drawn on LG in LDC:
i) the better the system of human resource management of a particular LG, the better
its general performance; ii) most LG have no developed function on human resource
management; rather, they only have a personnel administration office (not a system)
in its narrow sense; iii) effective ID programmes for LG should consider as an
important element the fostering of an human resource management system; iv) most
of the ID programmes of activities for LG have a lack of attention on human resource
management; v) sustainable ID in LG cannot be achieved without improvement of
human resource management areas.
Training is one of the major factors in order to strengthen and modernise LG in LDCs
(Lordello de Mello, 1985b: 178). However, training is not a panacea for the
administrative and managerial problems of LG in LDCs (Nyamu, 1985: 166; United
Nations, 1985:143). The importance of training for LG personnel is presented in
Eddison et al (1993: 45) and in IULA-The Secretariat (1985: 293). Considerations and
experiences of training in LG in LDCs are showed in Blair (1985a); Danforth (1976);
Hopkins (1988); IULA (1985). Rondinelli (1983: 86) says that training at the local level
before programme responsibilities are delegated is a pre-requisite for successful
decentralisation; and Lordello de Mello, referring to the training efforts of LG officials,
points out that:
up grading their personnel in all critical fields, local governments
can, therefore, fight with more confidence for greater
responsibilities, greater financial resources, and greater
participation in the process of national development (Lordello de
Mello 1985b: 193).
Organisation for LG training
The training function addressed to LG officials is normally executed by central
government agencies, because of (United Nations: 1966; 48): i) the lack of financial
resources on the part of LG; ii) the absence of skilled and experienced local personnel
to conduct training; iii) the newness of LG institutions in many countries; and iv) the
absence in many countries of any viable institution to offer a satisfactory alternative to
central government sponsorship. LG Associations or “municipal leagues”, NGOs of
different nature, international agencies, universities, schools and institutes of public
administration are sometimes also involved in this task (IULA-The Secretariat, 1985:
296; Lordello de Mello, 1985b), but there is a general agreement that all these
initiatives are not sufficient to meet the high demand (United Nations, 1966).
Constraints and problems of training-related activities
The United Nations (1985: 141) mentions the following constraints that the training of
LG officials has to face: i) absence of or inadequate training facilities and
opportunities; ii) lack of finance and resources to mount training programmes and
provide proper equipment, transport, text books, class-rooms and accommodation; iii)
dearth of local teaching materials; iv) shortage of tutorial staff and experienced
trainers, because many tutors in some training institutions are well qualified
academically but woefully short of working experience. Honadle et al (1982)
established a group of elements that training for development has to deal with:
development project training has two objectives: a direct objective to improve
organisational performance and an indirect objective to enhance an
organisation's ability to function effectively within a changing environment.
traditional training approaches that emphasise knowledge transfer fail to meet
these objectives because they area place-oriented and thus emphasise giving
standardised training to groups of unrelated trainees at a particular facility;
they emphasise teaching skills trainers and knowledge rather than determining
management needs or building upon knowledge trainees already possess.
in traditional learning approaches, learning is expected to occur by inference
from artificial examples rather than by attacking real problems; trainees are
generally drawn from only one management level at a time; actual
performance and skills are not examined; and training is treated as a discrete
even rather than as just one ripple in a constant stream of management
development activity.
Nyamu (1985) arises a relevant consideration on the fact that training does not
necessarily solve all, or any of the management problems unless organisational
problems are distinguished from realistic training needs for new skills, attitudes and
..all organisations will experience problems of one kind or another,
and not all problems should be seen as eligible for a training
solution. Most problems can be resolved through realistic policy
formulation, policy clarification, policy re-orientation, structural
adjustment, changes in operation, personnel re-deployment,
budgetary and fiscal improvement, and overall improved
communication and operational clarity, always placing the
community at the centre of operations. The management are, as
policy formulators, more often than not responsible for
organisational confusion. Before an organisation applies the
training solution therefore, let the first thing be the examination of
the nature of the problem, and of the available alternative solutions
outside training (Ibid.: 173).
Training for Councillors, Mayors and Chief Executives
An important element to be considered for ID training tasks is the fostering of more
training for elected representatives or councillors. Reasons for this are provided in
United Nations (1966: 74-75) and a set of questions related to the training of
councillors is given (Ibid.: 75): i) who shall provide the training; where shall it be
provided- in a central residential training institution, in temporary camps, provincial
schools, or elsewhere?, what shall be the content of training suitable for councillors?.
No specific references were encountered on the area of training for Mayors, Chief
Executives or even Senior Officers of LG in LDC, despite the factor that they are very
crucial actors in the management of LG, so their training needs should receive the
attention of any ID project.
Coordination of training activities for LG
The area of training for LG is a complex one, due to the different possible training
activities that can take place, which are described and analysed in Adamolekun
(1991); IULA (1985); Kayila (1985); and United Nations (1966). Different training
strategies in turn have to consider different strategies for location and execution.
Additionally, there are different groups needed in training activities. If to these
elements we add the list of different organisational sources of training and the different
financial sources of funding for these activities as well as the consideration of training
standards, the resultant picture becomes complex. Hence, one of the main tasks in
the general question of training for LG should be: i) the coordination of activities
between different actors involved in the process; and ii) developing clear and
sustainable channels of communications, especially to ensure equal opportunities and
access to LG staff and elected members of all LGs in any particular country.
Training for capacity building
Honadle et al (1982: 305) provide recommendations on how training can be effectively
used as an instrument for capacity building:
training staff must involve actors in the implementation process rather than
remaining aloof from the issues involved in making programmes work
training must focus outward on issues of organisation, policy and beneficiary
participation in project decision making rather than inward on curriculum
development and training techniques.
training efforts and project designs should avoid “bypass” strategies which
ignore pre-existing local institutions and capacities by importing management
enclaves or training packages.
the training substance should make use of knowledge and skills already in the
environment rather than emphasising the importation of new skills.
the design of training activities or development projects should be seen as an
element of capacity building rather than as a discrete event and thus the
design/implementation dichotomy should be eliminated.
training should be recast as management development and action planning
consultation. Follow-on consultation and evaluation should be seen as
continual, overlapping parts of the management development and
performance process.
the training target should be organisational rather than just individual.
Therefore, on-site, work group-focused, multilevel activity should become
common, and an emphasis on incentives and resource bases should become
Financial strength is crucial to municipal effectiveness (Bahl and Miller, 1983; Davey,
1989a; Madavo: 1989). This area of the literature is complex and extensive. The most
comprehensive works on LG finance in LDCs are Bahl et al (1992) and Davey (1983).
On the importance of financial issues for the ID of LG Cheema says:
The most critical set of actions needed to strengthen the role of
urban local governments are those that are aimed at improving
their resource base including their internal financial management
systems (Cheema, 1987: 171).
Davey’s key elements
Davey (1989a: 41-52), provides a set of elements to consider for improvement in LG
finance as follows: i) taxes (from an overall perspective incorporating the following
factors: equity, efficiency, buoyancy, administrative capacity, and political sensitivity);
ii) property taxation; iii) income tax; iv) taxes on expenditure; v) user charges; vi)
transfers; vii) capital finance (loans and land development).
How to improve LG finance?
In a study related to the Philippines, Bahl and Schroeder (1983: 43) say that if the
increase of LG finance in governmental finance is really a national objective, then
central government may find it necessary to remove certain disincentives to more
efficient LG financing and to create incentives for LG to increase tax effort and
development spending. Bahl adds to that;
Ironically, a major prerequisite to strengthening the financial
performance of local governments is a strengthening of the central
government’s ability to administer and control local government
finances (Bahl, 1983: 229).
In the same case of the Philippines, Bahl (1983: 229) states that a program of reform
has to take in the following areas: i) financial management and budgeting; ii) local
taxation; iii) the use of public enterprises, and iv) the use of credit financing. To these
elements we may add the works of Bird (1990) on intergovernmental finance reforms;
Chitoshi (1984) on improving the finance of LG in Zambia; Hubbell (1983) on local
government credit financing; Greytak and Diokno (1983) on LG public enterprises;
Mathur (1987) on the financing of urban development; Murphy (1995) on fiscal
decentralisation in Latin America; Smoke (1993) on reform of LG finance in Kenya;
and Winkler (1994) on the design and administration of intergovernmental transfers.
You et al (1988: 34) argue that central governments have a major role to play in
establishing the facilitating framework within which changes in policy and operations
can take place, often accompanied by technical assistance and training.
Suggestions for actions needed to strengthen LG finance in LDCs, based on the
improvement of the resource base and financial management is provided by Cheema
(1987: 172): i) increase in the share of municipal governments in the national revenue
by changing the criteria for distribution of public sector finance, taking into
consideration factors such as density of population and cost of maintaining existing
services; ii) authorising LG to levy additional taxes presently reserved for central or
provincial governments; and iii) the provision of technical assistance to LG to improve
the efficiency of their internal resource mobilisation through evaluation of property for
taxation, recovery of user charges and cost of investment for shelter, monitoring and
control of their internal operation with an appropriate information system, and through
their accounting system. A comprehensive and detailed set of recommendations on
the question of improvement and strengthening of LG finances to raise adequate
revenues to meet rising urban service needs has been also provided by Rondinelli
(1988: 30-31).
Bird (1990: 286) argues that is not an easy task to enunciate general prescriptions to
the reform of LG finance and intergovernmental fiscal relations, but four basic
principles have to be considered: i) transparency; ii) stability; iii) flexibility; iv)
incrementalism. As a result of the analysis of different programs for intergovernmental
fiscal reforms in different parts of the world, Bahl and Linn (1992: 479-480) make the
following points on LG finance reform:
proposals, often majors and sweeping, for fiscal reform as a means of
alleviating serious problems of urban governments have been put forward in
most, if not all, large cities of the world.
although the nature of these reforms has varied with local conditions and with
each team of advisers responsible for them, very few such reforms have been
accepted in their entirely.
resistance on the part of policymakers and citizens facing the prospect of fiscal
reform, however much needed, stems from doubts about the unanticipated
effects of untested, large scale changes in the economic environment and
about the distribution of the windfall gains and losses associated with reform.
perhaps the biggest problem of all is the resistance of central government to
the increased local autonomy that is almost always part of these proposals.
Ministries of Finance and Public Works especially are loathe to give up control
on their respective areas.
national legislators see fiscal decentralisation as an inroad or their ability to
distribute resources in return for political points with the home constituency.
LG should be the proponents of reforms. But they are hardly in a position to
change national laws concerning the powers of LG. In many cases local
officials are themselves appointed by central government.
in most cases of major, sweeping reform in LDCs, certain conditions have
prevailed: i) higher-level government took over important sources of revenue
previously allocated to local authorities; ii) sweeping political changes resulted
in major shifts in national priorities; or iii) fiscal problems were so
unmanageable that reform was unavoidable.
incremental reforms of local finances have found more general acceptance.
it seems that a top-down approach to far-reaching fiscal decentralisation,
however preferable be, is a non-starter in most developing countries.
The success of a finance reform depends very much upon the political commitment to
it and the institutional capacity to carry it out (Morrisey, 1995). Hence, good feasibility
analysis is required. Comments and illustrations on the weaknesses of fiscal reforms
and their consequences are presented in Bird and Casanegra (1992), Mosley (1989),
Surrey (1975) and Tait (1990).
On political constraints or variables affecting these reforms, Bird (1975) and Morrisey
(1995) point out two main problems: i) the real purposes or interests of the
government in making changes, or commitment; and ii) the government’s ability to
make effective policy decisions. About the first mentioned variable, many fiscal
reforms are in vain because they were no real "games" of the government, but a game
performed for the international lending agencies or other interested spectators (Bird,
1975: 74). The second variable depends on at least two factors: i) the political base
and support of the government; and ii) existing administrative capacity.
Fiscal reforms are full of conflicts and ambiguities (Morrisey, 1995; Hyden and
Karlstrom, 1993) and governments are obliged to interact in these conditions with
other interest groups in society. A strong well supported government could make great
advances in financial reforms even with administrative, political and economic
limitations. A weak government will have to face serious problems in order to take
each step during the implementation of reforms. The above mentioned elements are
of relevance for local authorities willing to introduce and maintain a financial reform.
Further research
Financing is one of the most studied area related to LG in LDCs. Hence the
identification of questions for further research are not easily derived from a general
literature review. However Bahl (1983: 254) suggests the following elements based
on his work in Philippines LG: i) development of tools for the analysis of financial
performance of LG; ii) implementation of nation wide system of financial performance
analysis of LG; iii) determining data for tracking and monitoring local government
finance; while Adamolekun (1991: 289) has pointed out the need for research on the
strengthening of financial control.
Accountability and corruption
The issues of accountability and corruption are very weakly studied in the case of LG
in LDCs. Intentionally, we complemented the accountability component for ID
suggested by Davey, with the issue of corruption, considering their relationship and
the effects of the corruption in the life of many LG in LDCs. References in this sense
were encountered in Zimmerman (1982) on the case of Philippine; Collins (1988) on
Latin America; Crook (1994) on Ghana; and Stren (1989) on Africa.
Accountability is crucial to the effectiveness of any organisation, public or private. If
the exercise of authority is unchallenged, it is vulnerable to inertia, self-interest,
insensitivity and corruption. (Davey, 1989a: 53). Referring to the fact of corruption and
accountability in LG in Latin American countries Collins states:
Local Governments in Latin America has been characterised as a
traditional outpost of corruption and political clientelism that is
neither representative of broad community interest nor adequately
equipped to provide required community services. (Collins, 1988:
Davey’s key elements
The key elements suggested by Davey (1989a) to consider the issue of accountability
of LG in LDC are the following:
accountability to the electorate. to the local citizens. Special consideration has
to be given to political parties and electoral politics.
accountability to the central government. and in this case, a group of controls
exercised by central governments, which require accountability to it from the
LG need to be mentioned, regardless of the extent, form or intensity in which
they can be used in one or another country: a) the power to veto the
appointment of, or dismiss the mayor/chairman/chief executive; b) the power to
dissolve councils or suspend individual members; c) approval of budgets,
taxes, fees, loans, contracts, individual projects; d) approval of staff
appointments and dismissals, e) conditions of service, establishments, grading
and minimum qualifications; f) approval of physical development plans; g)
approval of development plans for services; h) approval of laws, by-laws or
resolutions; i) audit; j) reserved power to take over administration of particular
services; k) expenditure of central/state grants and loans.
The only work found which is focused in the analysis of the democratic accountability
of LG to the local electorate in LDC is that of Crook (1994), who analyses the
operation of the Ghana District Assemblies in the light of democratisation and
Corruption in government is a perennial problem (Zimmerman 1982: 42; Davies: 1987;
62), yet major actions can be taken to reduce, if not eliminate, the problem in a given
local authority. In this sense from an analysis of different countries and in relation to
LG in Philippines, Zimmerman (1982) proposes elements to promote the incorporation
of ethics and reduce the corruption in LG:
a Code of Conduct or ethics. This provides a reference framework for local authority
personnel and facilitates self-regulation of behaviour by providing guidelines....to
acceptable conduct.
Board of Ethics. Although this function can be performed by a single person or a
Board, its substance is to provide advice upon request, to monitor and investigate
ethical standards and behaviour, and to suggest revisions to the Code of Conduct
upon experience.
• financial disclosure. One of the most intractable ethical problems involves the
intertwining of personal interests with the public interest. Disclosure laws, by
requiring the public listing of the financial interests of local authority personnel
annually, attempt to bring any potential conflict-of-interest into the open arena for
public scrutiny. Financial disclosure in some jurisdictions also requires candidates
for elective local authority offices to file statements listing their financial interests as
well as statements of campaign receipts and expenditures.
• open meeting laws. Decision making "in camera" is common in many local
authorities. To throw light on the decision making process and allow citizens to
monitor it, a number of governments in recent years have adopted open meeting
laws requiring that decisions be made at public meetings with specified exceptions
where the public interest would be injured by an open decision.
• public access to official records.
In the area of corruption in LG (although not specifically related to LG in LDCs but in
England) including elements on the strategy to take in order to struggle against
corrupt practices and on the importance of limiting administrative corruption are those
of Davies (1987) and Loughlin (1992). Some directions for further research and
practice work in LG in LDCs are suggested in relation to accountability by Campbell,
Peterson and Brakarz (1991: v, 41-42) concerning legal, judicial and regulatory
matters and participation in LG; budgetary controls, contracting out and competitive
External factors, interventions and cooperation
Donor intervention is a major factor in municipal development in many Third World
countries (Davey, 1989a: 59). In this sense, institutional reforms, technical assistance
programmes and training in many of these countries are strongly supported by
external agencies. This factor has a crucial role to play in ID activities addressed to
LG. Davey (Ibid.) suggests two pre-conditions for successful and effective external
interventions: i) receptivity of central government; and ii) interventions need to be seen
by the LG themselves as supportive. These suggestions do not apply in all cases,
because there are external interventions negotiated directly with particular LGs,
without the participation of central government. However, in the case of large
programmes or in the case of programmes funded by loans from multilateral
development banks these elements are very important.
Specific institutional objectives of donor programmes are categorised by Davey (Ibid.:
59-67) as follows: i) reform in central-local relations; ii) improving central guidance and
supervision; iii) improvement of municipal management systems; iv) improvements in
cost recovery; v) improving provision of credit for capital investment; vi) providing
rewards and penalties for municipal performance; and vii) training. All should be
considered for further design and implementation of ID activities addressed to LG in
LDCs. A clear research gap in the literature is related to the points on central
guidance and supervision, municipal management systems and performance.
Reform of central-local relations
Interventions by external agencies in order to reform central-local relations in a
particular country can be characterised as follows (Ibid.: 64).
• interventions seek to convert direct central/state government expenditure on urban
services into transfers to municipalities. This increases the direct role of
municipalities in the selection, design and execution of urban investments.
• efforts are made to rationalise the distribution of central/state government
contributions to urban finance. Where central/ state expenditures have been
converted into transfers, some formulae and criteria have been applied to their
distribution; population is invariably a major element, but differences in local
resources bases or infrastructural deficits may also be taken into account.
Central-local relations reform is a typical area of concern of multilateral development
banks. The aims of these reforms are (Ibid.) directly: i) to reduce the role of political
patronage and subjective professional judgement in the distribution of government
funds and credits; ii) to make the process more objectively fair and rational; and iii) to
strengthen LG by identifying clearly the volume of financial assistance available and
the conditions under which it can be obtained; and indirectly: i) to promote the
financial strengthening of LG as a result of rationalisation of financial flows; ii)
strengthening of investment programming; iii) decreasing of political manoeuvre; iv)
creation of bases to attract qualified staff to deal with investments; and v)
reinforcement of autonomy and self confidence of LG. Obviously, these reforms affect
different interests, so the possibility to carry them out and their effectiveness will
depend heavily on the ability to overcome resistance within central, state or provincial
governments, and other interested actors (e.g. political parties). Werlin illustrates this
point, as follows:
In most LDCs, there continues to be hostility to all forms of
decentralisation, including the delegation of authority to local and
regional governments, financial institutions, public utilities,
cooperatives, state-owned enterprises, non-governmental
organisations, etc. (Werlin, 1992: 224)
Some areas for further research in this field are:
• real impact of cooperation activities on the development of LG organisations and
decentralisation efforts;
• ways to increase the coordination among different donors (thousands of LG from
developed countries, international cooperation agencies, NGOs and in some cases
private companies) with regional and country perspective;
• need for coordination between LG authorities in LDCs to take advantage of the
offers of international cooperation;
• analysis of the different forms and cooperation strategies that take place in the area
of municipal development;
• analysis of the interaction, coordination or relationship of externally funded
municipal development programmes and national or locally promoted programmes
in the same area.
International cooperation for ID of LG in LDC
In the academic literature, there are very few references specifically related to
technical cooperation activities and development programs addressed to local or
municipal governments in LDCs. The general trend in the literature is the analysis of
urban development programmes, which in some marginal cases include
considerations concerning institutional aspects and some comments on LG
strengthening activities (e.g Asian Development Bank (1987); Lee-Smith et al (1991);
Linsfield (1993); Stren (1991); Werlin (1990)). To date the analysis of international
cooperation addressed to LG in LDCs has to be closely related with or through the
analysis of urban development programmes, because this is the predominant
environment in which they are conceived and implemented. However, there is a need
to develop research specifically concerned with municipal or LG programmes,
focusing on governmental and managerial issues.
Most of the references in the literature are related to multilateral lending by the World
Bank and bilateral cooperation by USAID and there is a clear need of information and
research on technical cooperation and training activities undertaken by regional
development banks and bilateral cooperation agencies, by LDCs through horizontal
cooperation and especially in the area of international municipal cooperation.
Multilateral development banks and other multilateral organisations
In relation to the work of development banks in the municipal and urban arena, the
main trend in the literature is concerned with the World Bank experience (Gould:
1992; Guarda: 1990; Ljung and Zhang: 1989; McNeill, 1983; Onikobun et al: 1989;
Pugh: 1989; Stren: 1991). Analysis of the World Bank approach and lending to urban
projects (World Bank: 1994, 1983) shows that since urban lending began in the
1970s ID issues has been a priority area of concern, although the major studies in the
area sponsored by the Bank have been published since the late 1980s (Cochrane,
1982; Campbell, 1995; Davey, 1989a,b; World Bank, 1989). GTZ (1995: 8) highlights
the following points on the World Bank and United Nations work on urban and
municipal development:
On the World Bank
• the most important multilateral donor in the urban and municipal area is the
World Bank (WB).
• in the 1970s, the WB expanded considerably the financing of urban projects
through a special urbanisation programme, and simulated the development of
new project approaches. The initial approach was on a large scale to finance
mostly “site-and-service” projects, and later the redevelopment of residential
• since the mid-1980s greater emphasis has been placed on promoting integrated
urban development programmes (strengthening and establishment or promoting
integrated urban institutions, urban management, infrastructure, operation and
maintenance, land reform, etc.), focusing on cities as well as small and mediumsized towns. In this context, the improvement of framework conditions at the
national and local levels through political and legal reforms is gaining priority
over individual demonstration projects.
• since the early 1990s, greater importance has been attached to developing and
improving a framework conducive to private-sector development, by eliminating
subsidies, overregulation and other constraints to development, whilst
continuing to pursue the broader goal of poverty alleviation.
• overall the volume of World Bank assistance allocated to urban development
has been rising sharply.
On the United Nations agencies
• whereas UNCHS (Habitat) is responsible primarily for measures of technical
cooperation, more extensive financing programmes are promoted, primarily
through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
• the work of the United Nations focuses on the implementation of demonstration
projects, and on strengthening organisations and institutions which implement
urban development measures and programmes..
• the formerly dominant approach of promoting spatial planning and the planning
of infrastructure programmes has been superseded by the provision of advisory
and training inputs on all issues of urban management.
• the volume of UNDP assistance for urban development has also been
Some conclusions on the World Bank work on ID issues in urban development
projects in the period 1972-1992, are the following (World Bank, 1994: 37-43):
• much ID emphasis in sector policy has been on strengthening municipal
organisations, regarded as having primary responsibility for delivery of urban
infrastructure in most developing countries.
• the concept of ID in a broad sense, is specifically applied to this sector since
1992, as going beyond simply strengthening organisations to include policy,
“rules of the game” and the rights and obligations of players.
• participation of NGO’s and private sector in project implementation was not a
• governments and executing agencies showed less interest in the training and
technical assistance components of projects than in their physical investment
components. Organisations are intrinsically reluctant to pursue ID unless they
perceive good reasons for doing so.
• experience stresses the importance of sound incentives in intergovernmental
relations and of a clear understanding of a project’s regulatory framework for
project designers.
• urban project ID ratings were slightly higher than the Bank-wide average.
The work of regional banks and other international agencies in the field of urban and
municipal development is almost not reflected in the academic literature. There is a
reference on the Inter-American Development Bank (1989) by Nickson (1992: 223).
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) concern with urban and municipal development
projects are summarised in an report of the Asian regional seminar on major national
urban policy issues (Asian Development Bank, 1987). In it a review of the ADB
sectoral activities is provided and topics such as strengthening urban institutional
capabilities (Cheema: 1987), urban project design and coverage (Ohta et al: 1987)
and international assistance for urban development (Domicejli: 1987) are analysed not
only in core papers, but comparatively in twelve Asian countries. There is a clear need
for analysis and diffusion of policies, programmes and experiences of these
organisations. This is a relatively important task in order to contribute to the analysis
of ID activities of LG in LDCs. Similar consideration can be applied to the United
Nation agencies’, the European Union and other international organisation
cooperation programmes in the urban and municipal areas.
Since the mid-1980s the World Bank, UNDP/UNCHS (Habitat) and other donors have
been promoting the Urban Management Programme (UMP), designed to addressed
shortcomings in urban management, to elaborate and disseminate new instruments
and approaches, and to establish regional networks of experts and institutions (GTZ,
1995: 8). One output of this programme is the work by Davey (1996), but no
references were found on the implementation and impact of this world-wide
In the case of the International Union of Local Authorities (IULA), itself a main source
of information on LG all over the world for more than 80 years, paradoxically nothing
was found in the literature on the way it actually works, its policies, programmes and
priority areas for LG in LDCs.
Bilateral and international municipal cooperation
In the case of bilateral international cooperation in the areas of urban and municipal
development, references were found regarding the USAID (Rondinelli and Johnson,
1990), GTZ (1995), the British case (Pike, 1988), SIDA (Lindgren, 1991) and the
experiences of the former German Democratic Republic (Schmidt-Streckenbach,
The largest bilateral donor in the area of urban and municipal development is the
USAID which has concentrated its support on projects to promote medium-sized
towns and cities, and housing (GTZ, 1995: 8). Rondinelli and Johnson (1990: 257258) have classified USAID activities affecting urban areas including programmes and
projects that address urban issues directly and indirectly, as follows: i) urban
development programme; ii) economic development activities with urban impact; and
iii) social development programmes with urban beneficiaries. The urban development
programme directly addresses specific urban problems or issues that were identified
by analytical tools such as urban development assessments, and municipal and
financial assessments. Rondinelli et al (Ibid.: 257) point out as an example, that during
the 1988 fiscal year only 14% of the USAID resources directly supported programmes
dealing with urban development issues. The amount of resources specifically aimed at
technical assistance and training of LGs, is much less.
Considering that USAID is the largest bilateral donor to urban and municipal
development in LDCs, we may speculate that relatively, the amount of resources
specifically devoted to municipal development is low not only in the case of USAID,
but in the case of other bilateral cooperation agencies. On this Domicejli says,
“there is a stark contrast between the complex network of agencies
involved in the urban sector and the comparatively limited
deployment of funds channelled to it” (Domicejli, 1997: 252)
Additional elements on the USAID urban development programme, showing the
difficulties that this area is facing, are provided by Rondinelli and Johnson (1990: 256,
259-260). These elements (priority, policies, problems and funding of municipaloriented activities by different cooperation agencies) could be an interesting area for
further research.
GTZ has produced a Sector Paper on Municipal and Urban Development’, which
includes guiding principles for planning and implementation of municipal and urban
development cooperation projects (GTZ, 1995). It gives, a review of important
elements concerning German experience in cooperation activities on urban and
municipal areas; as well as an analysis and suggestions to improve the relationship
between projects and programmes, and cooperation between donor institutions (Ibid.:
11-12). Fuhr (1994) has also contributed with the analysis of the experience of donors
coordination in municipal strengthening in Ecuador, where GTZ, the World Bank and
the IDB were all involved in the design and execution of a national municipal
development programme.
An important element for the study of ID programmes for LG is the analysis of their
components and priorities for funding of different international agencies. There is a
lack of information and analysis on this topic in general. Domicejli illustrates this point
by saying:
..with the exception of USAID, which has a large housing and
urban program, bilateral agencies generally do not identify urbanrelated assistance as a distinct category.. Domicejli (1987: 252).
GTZ provides a description of its own technical and financial cooperation areas in
urban and municipal management (GTZ, 1995: 14-19), considering: i) strengthening of
municipal self-government and urban management; ii) urban infrastructure and
services; iii) municipal financing; iv) urban environmental management; v) planning
and controlling spatial development; vi) development of residential areas and
upgrading of informal settlements; vii) women in development. No similar references
were encountered for other agencies.
Work addressed to LG in LDCs in different regions of the world is provided by other
bilateral agencies from France, Spain, Holland, Scandinavian countries and Japan.
Unfortunately, we did not encountered references related to these cases. Hence, the
analysis of bilateral ID activities aimed at LG in LDCs is a difficult task due to the lack
of information. If it is not easy to analyse in detail the content and nature of the
cooperation addressed to LG in LDCs, then it will not be easy to analyse ID practices
and policies in particular.
The same considerations can be applied to the case of international municipal and
horizontal cooperation, which usually, include a wide range of alternative
arrangements and organisations involved in a common purpose- to provide technical
cooperation and friendship between LG in a North-North, North-South, South-South
and Western-Eastern basis. These activities include not only LG but NGOs, private
sector and local organisations all over the world. International cooperation for
municipal development is provided by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities
(Hewitt, 1995); ICMA (International City/County Management Association) of the USA
(Tee, 1987), LOGO (National Platform on Municipalities and Development
Corporation) of the Netherlands (LOGO: 1995); and, in the United Kingdom, LGs are
involved with international development cooperation trough the Local Government
International Bureau (LGIB) of the Local Government Management Board (LGMB)
(Pasteur, 1994).
Additional considerations
Institutional analysis, capacity and performance in LG
The development of ID activities is related, to three concepts:-i) institutional analysis,
ii) assessment of institutional capacity; and iii) institutional performance. But few
references are available on the above mentioned issues concerning LG in LDCs:
Williams (1981) on measuring LG performance in the context of decentralisation and
participation in rural development; Johnson et al (1986) on municipal management
assessment in Panama; Johnson et al (1987) on municipal management assessment
in Bangkok; Johnson et al (1986) providing guidelines for municipal management
assessment; Campbell (1995) on a case study on municipal capacity in Colombia; and
Wunsch (1991) in relation to institutional analysis and decentralisation in LDCs.
Further research is needed in these areas, especially in relation to institutional
analysis, which is a pre-requisite for a successful ID work. Useful references for
further research related to performance in LGs include the following on USA (Ammons
:1996, 1995), Boyne (1992b); and Hatry (1979) and on the UK in Epping Forest
District Council (1976), Osborne (1993) and Rogers (1990).
Local government associations
From the experience of developed countries such as England, Canada, Netherlands
and USA, a necessary but not sufficient condition to have a steadily improving system
of LG is the presence of strong and supportive LG associations (LGA). The academic
literature has not yet provided sufficient information on how LGA in LDCs have
supported and promoted the process of ID of their members. A comparative analysis
of LGA in all Latin American countries is available by Nickson (1995; 1989) and the
analysis of an African experience from Chitoshi (1987) on the Zambian LG
Municipal/ local government development organisations
Central governments and in some cases provincial or state governments in LDCs
have set up municipal development organisations. How these organisations have
provided support for the ID of LGs is not clearly analysed in the literature, although
some references on their work and activities can be mentioned, especially in relation
to Latin American countries by Allen (1985) on Central and South America; Carmona
Mateo (1985) and Jagger Contreras (1985) on Costa Rica; Gall (1976) on an
intercountry analysis, Illaramendi (1985), Martinez (1972) and Ornes de Albornoz
(1985) on Venezuela; and Pinto (1968) on Brazil. A comparative analysis of municipal
development organisations in Latin America is provided by Nickson (1995; 1985).
References (Dunn et al, 1985; Kelley, 1980) were found on universities, research
institutes and other organisations assisting state and local governments in USA, which
can be helpful for learning and comparative purposes.
Governance and democracy
Democracy and strong LGs are closely interrelated. Most of the literature on LG in
LDCs reflects this idea and most of it considers in its analyses the effects or impact of
a particular LG system, change or reorganisation on the search of more democratic
conditions. Specific references on ID-related issues and democracy are included in
Campbell (1995); Yildirim (1992); and Slater (1994). The recent trend on governance
and good government in the development and international cooperation business
(Aboyade, 1995; Blunt,1995; Doig, 1995; Osborne, 1993; Werlin, 1994) has not been
yet reflected in the literature of LG in LDCs.
Poverty alleviation, environment, women and gender issues in LG in
References on poverty alleviation, environment, women and gender issues in LG in
LDCs are not plentiful. In most of the cases, works are focused on the technical issues
and not specifically on the way LG handle them or on the "what and how to" needed to
improve their management. References on poverty alleviation and LG in LDCs can be
found in Campbell (1995); Campbell et al (1989); Cheema (1988); DAG (1996);
Nickson (1995).
Regarding the relationship between environmental questions, LG and urban
development references were found on urban environmental management (Atkinson
et al,1994, Leitmann et al, 1992); on municipal reform and the sustainable
development mandate (Brugmann, 1994); on sustainable urban development (Aina et
al, 1994; Douglas et al,1994; Jimenez et al, 1989, United Nations Centre for Human
Settlements (Habitat), 1989); on urban health and municipal environmental problems
(Atkinson, 1993; Casas Castañieda, 1989; Dejene, 1991; Hardoy et al, 1992; Jacobi,
1990; Queijo et al, 1989; Rees, 1987, Schteingart 1989); on district planning,
environment and community participation Dawson (1992); and on urban solid waste
management (Furedy,1992; Poerbo,1991).
Finally, women issues in LG in LDCs were found in Gwagwa (1991) on South Africa;
Hirschmann (1986) on Malawi; Knaapi-Rung (1988) and Mbugna (1988) on women in
LG; and Moser (1995) on women and urban development policy, and in a collection of
works on LG and gender equity in Latin America (IULA/CELCADEL, 1996). Most of
these references are oriented towards the role of women as LG staff members or
elected representatives and the way that LG consider woman's needs in the policy
making process.
Programmes and projects addressed to LG
There is a sensible lack of information on municipal development programmes,
projects or stand-alone cooperation activities specifically addressed to LG in LDCs.
Hence, the specificity of institutional development programmes for LG in LDCs has not
been adequately studied or reflected in the literature. There is a clear need for
research on the area of design, implementation and evaluation of LG ID programmes
in LDCs. Specific references in the area of programmes in this field are those of
Campbell (1995) on municipal capacity building in Colombia; and Gall (1983, 1976) on
Latin American countries regarding USAID support activities; and Owusu-Donkor
(1994) on the assessment of an ID project for district administration in Ghana.
LG in LDCs and in Eastern Europe and transitional economies
Common pattern in the recent development of many LDCs are: i) public sector reform,
ii) decentralisation; iii) the increasing of demand for more and better urban services as
a result of the increase of the poverty; and iv) the need at the local level for more
democratic, accountable, participatory and cooperative government with NGOs and
private sector. New managerial skills for local authorities in economies with less
interventionist and more market-oriented states are needed. A more businesslike
orientation is a main trend of LG management in LDCs.
Each of the above mentioned considerations can be applied to the case of Eastern
Europe and other countries in transition from socialism. A similar list of characteristics
is pointed out by Devas (1995) regarding the mentioned countries. So much can be
learned from the mutual experience and problems of ID programmes for LG in LDCs
and in Eastern European and other countries in transition from socialism.
Level and content of ID for LG in LDCs
The development of ID for LG in LDCs as an specific area of study and practice
should explore the question of the approach to be used for different cases dependent
on: i) the level or units where the action takes place (micro- a particular LG
organisation; or macro- a group of LG organisations or even the overall universe of
them in a particular region or country); and ii) the content and nature of the action
addressed in each case: i) global- considering work in a substantial group of
components of ID; and ii) specialised or specific- considering ID work in any or few of
the components of ID. Different combinations of the level and content of ID activities,
should imply different institutional analysis approach, design and implementation
strategies, impacts and outputs. The literature does not reflect worries in this sense.
Combining both elements, levels of action and content of action, we can have a
framework for the analysis and classification of ID programmes addressed to LG in
LDCs (table 3.2).
Methodological issues and sources of information
The methodology for carrying out this literature review consisted of tracing references
in different sources of information using the following keywords: i) local government
(s); decentralis (z) ation; iii) municipal (ity, ities); iv) institutional development; v)
capacity building; vi) institutional building; vii) institutional strengthening; and viii) their
different combinations. Hence this is a literature review based on the written literature
in English language and related to: i) institutional development issues in international
development; and ii) local government and decentralisation in less developed
countries (developing countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America).
The literature was systematically traced mainly in sources of information related to
international development and local government (see detail list of sources below).
Additional references were traced making use of the bibliography, notes and
bibliographical reviews cited in all the books, articles and reports analysed. Literature
considered relevant as a reference from developed countries experience in local
government issues were considered, although not systematically. An exception on
the language base is present- an IULA/CELCADEL (1995) book in Spanish.
The electronic sources of information and data bases consulted during the review
Library Catalogues
TALIS (University of Birmingham)
DEVLINE (University of Sussex)
Periodicals and Journals
ASSIA. Applied Social Sciences Index and Abstracts
BIDS. Bath Information and Data Services
British Humanities Index Database
ERIC. Educational Resources Information Center
ERIC International. Educational Resources Information Center
PhD Dissertations and Theses
DADO. Dissertation Abstracts OnDisc (1861-1996) (USA oriented).
ASLIB. Index to Theses: Great Britain and Ireland. Volumes 21-42.
The journals consulted during the literature review were:
Africa Quarterly
African Affairs
African Development Review
African Review
African Urban Studies
American Political Science Review
Australian Journal of Public Administration
Bulletin of Latin American Research
Canadian Journal of African Studies
Canadian Journal of Development Studies
Caribbean Quarterly
Community Development Journal
Development and Change
Environment and Urbanization
Finance and Development
Habitat International
IDS Bulletin
International Journal of Public Sector Management
International Journal of Urban and Regional Research
International Review of Administrative Sciences
Journal of Administration Overseas
Journal of African Studies
Journal of the American Planning Association
Journal of Asian and African Studies
The Journal of Commonwealth and Comparative Politics
Journal of Communist Studies
The Journal of Communist Studies and Transition Politics
Journal of Contemporary Asia
Journal of Developing Areas
Journal of Development Economics
Journal of Latin American Studies
Journal of Modern African Studies
Journal of Policy Analysis and Management
Journal of South East Asian Studies
Journal of Southern African Studies
Justice of the Peace & Local Government Law
Latin American Urban Research, SAGE
Local Government Chronicle International
Local Government Studies
Planning and Administration
Planning Week
Policy Studies Journal
Policy Studies Review
Progress in Planning
Public Administration
Public Administration and Development
Public Administration Review
Public Choice
Public Finance/ Finance Publiques
Public Money and Management
Review of Urban and Regional Studies
Southeast Asian Journal of Social Sciences
Studies in Comparative International Development
Third World Planning Review
Third World Quarterly
Town and Country Planning
Town Planning Review
Urban Affairs Quarterly
Urban Edge
Urban Studies
World Development
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