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2 - The Social Underpinnings of Decentralized Governance

Networks, Technology, and the Future of Social Accountability

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 February 2019

Jonathan A. Rodden
Stanford University, California
Erik Wibbels
Duke University, North Carolina
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Most of the academic research on how decentralization might promote accountability has focused on institutions: how formal rules governing elections, fiscal federalism, etc. impact political accountability. Donor programming and accompanying evaluations, on the other hand, have focused less on institutions and more on mobilizing civil society and “social accountability”. These programming efforts have progressed with considerable enthusiasm but without, for the most part, reference to recent academic breakthroughs on the social conditions for cooperative behavior and collective action. The goal of this chapter is to consider how recent innovations in the study of information flows and cooperation in social networks might inform donor programming on social accountability. Research on social networks provides insights into the relational characteristics of communities that are certain to impact the prospects for accountability, the potential for technology to promote accountability, and gives a rigorous underpinning to the frequent, if ambiguous, claim that “context matters.”
Decentralized Governance and Accountability
Academic Research and the Future of Donor Programming
, pp. 14 - 39
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2019

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