Decentralizing Governance

Living reference work entry



Decentralizing governance is the process of promoting the role and enhancing the status of – principally – formal subnational institutions, namely local and regional authorities, in the policy process, by transferring responsibilities and – financial and human – resources from central state authorities to them.


Since 1990 onwards, the term “governance” has become a highly popular one (for an etymology and genealogy see: Jessop 1998, pp. 30–31). However, there has not been a single definition of the concept so far; instead, various uses have been proposed (Rhodes 1996). Generally, it has been suggested that the concept denotes “a change in the meaning of government” which allows for “a new process of governing, or a changed condition of ordered rule; or the new method by which society is governed” (Rhodes 1996, pp. 652–653; italics in original). In the same vein, it has been argued that it...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Ezcurra R, Rodríguez-Pose A (2013) Political decentralization, economic growth and regional disparities in the OECD. Reg Stud 47(3):388–401CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Hague R, Harrop M (2004) Comparative government and politics. Palgrave Macmillan, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  3. Hooghe L, Marks G (2001) Multi-level governance and European integration. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  4. Jessop B (1998) The rise of governance and the risks of failure: the case of economic development. Int Soc Sci J 50(155):29–45CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. John P (2000) The Europeanisation of sub-national governance. Urban Stud 37(5–6):877–894CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Kooiman J (1993) Social-political governance: introduction. In: Kooiman J (ed) Modern governance. New government-society interactions. Sage, London, pp 1–6Google Scholar
  7. Kuhlmann S, Wayenberg E (2016) Institutional impact assessment in multi-level systems: conceptualizing decentralization effects from a comparative perspective. Int Rev Adm Sci 82(2):233–254CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Loughlin J (2007) Reconfiguring the state: trends in territorial governance in European states. Reg Fed Stud 17(4):385–403CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Peters BG, Pierre J (2006) Governance, government and the state. In: Hay C, Lister M, Marsh M (eds) The state – theories and issues. Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, pp 209–222Google Scholar
  10. Piattoni S (2010) The theory of multi-level governance-conceptual, empirical, and normative challenges. Oxford University Press, OxfordCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Pollitt C (2005) Decentralization. In: Felrie E, Lynn LE, Pollitt C (eds) The Oxford handbook of public management. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 371–397Google Scholar
  12. Rhodes R (1994) The hollowing out of the state: the changing nature of the public service in Britain. Polit Q 65(2):138–151CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Rhodes R (1996) The new governance: governing without government. Polit Stud XLIV:652–667CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Saito F (2011) Decentralization. In: Bevir M (ed) The Sage handbook of governance. Sage, London, pp 484–500CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Shabbir-Cheema S, Rondinelli D (2007) From government decentralization to decentralized governance. In: Shabbir-Cheema S, Rondinelli D (eds) Decentralizing governance. Emerging concepts and practices. Harvard University-Brookings Institution Press, Washington, DC, pp 1–20Google Scholar
  16. World Bank (2008) Decentralization in client countries. An evaluation of World Bank support, 1990–2007. The World Bank, Washington, DCCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political Science and International RelationsUniversity of the PeloponneseCorinthGreece