A New Typology of Local Government? Beyond North-South and East-West

  • Andreas Ladner
  • Nicolas Keuffer
  • Harald Baldersheim
  • Nikos Hlepas
  • Pawel Swianiewicz
  • Kristof Steyvers
  • Carmen Navarro
Part of the Governance and Public Management book series (GPM)


This chapter develops an empirical typology of local autonomy clustering countries with similar configurations. Aligning with the discrete quantitative approach emerging in the comparative literature, it tries to add depth and scope to the existing classifications whilst critically engaging with them. Empirically, the chapter draws on the dimensions of political discretion and financial autonomy recategorising scores as low, medium or high and probing into observable combinations thereof at the beginning, the middle and the end of the reference period. Three main conclusions stand out. First, it is possible to classify about 40 countries into 9 different types of local autonomy summarised into 4 ideal and 5 transitory types . Second, although central in existing classifications, geographical location only continues to matter to a certain extent according to our data. Third, as most of the existing classifications referred to stable state traditions, our findings suggest a combination of static as well as more dynamic features. Hence, we conclude that there is no such thing as a universal and encompassing typology of local autonomy that will be valid and reliable for the long term. Future research should revisit and update dimensions and classifications and delve deeper into the ontology and implications of their configurations.


Local autonomy typology Local government systems classifications Country-configurations Ideal versus transitory types Geographical location State traditions 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andreas Ladner
    • 1
  • Nicolas Keuffer
    • 1
  • Harald Baldersheim
    • 2
  • Nikos Hlepas
    • 3
  • Pawel Swianiewicz
    • 4
  • Kristof Steyvers
    • 5
  • Carmen Navarro
    • 6
  1. 1.IDHEAPUniversity of LausanneLausanneSwitzerland
  2. 2.Department of Political ScienceUniversity of OsloOsloNorway
  3. 3.National and Kapodistrian University of AthensAthensGreece
  4. 4.Department of Local Development and Policy, Faculty of Geography and Regional StudiesUniversity of WarsawWarszawaPoland
  5. 5.Department of Political ScienceGhent UniversityGhentBelgium
  6. 6.Department of Political ScienceUniversidad Autónoma de MadridMadridSpain

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