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4 - Traditional Leaders, Service Delivery, and Electoral 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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In this chapter, we review and synthesize the literature on the effects of traditional chiefs on public goods provision, government performance, and electoral accountability. Although traditional chiefs are not typically elected, there is great variation in their linkages with the communities they govern and their independence from the state. In cases where they have strong institutional, economic and social connections to their communities, they are often very effective in community mobilization. If the government is also interested in service delivery, the two actors can complement each other’s efforts to improve government performance in this area. The effects of traditional chiefs on electoral accountability are also conditional on their independence from the state. This suggests large potential benefits from donors working with locally embedded traditional leaders. However, at the same time, donors must be careful that their interventions do not weaken the embeddedness of traditional leaders in their communities in order to avoid adverse effects on accountability.
Decentralized Governance and Accountability
Academic Research and the Future of Donor Programming
, pp. 61 - 90
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2019

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