Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Schmidt, Gregory D., 1952-

Degree Name

Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)

Legacy Department

Department of Political Science


Bolivia--Politics and government; Decentralization in government--Bolivia; Responsibility--Bolivia


This dissertation tests the hypothesized link between popular participation and governmental performance in schemes of decentralization. It is of key importance here to determine the effect of decentralization on governmental accountability and popular participation. It has been established that governmental accountability improves with higher levels of horizontal exchange or bargaining, a term previously mislabeled as horizontal accountability. Horizontal exchange may occur as one colaterally situated institution bargains with another in areas where resources or functions are shared. Governmental accountability to the public may be strengthened by the existence of autonomous or semi-autonomous superintendence agencies that are able to bargain with the executive and legislative branches over the use of public goods. By evaluating the outcomes of a uniformly applied policy of partial political devolution in three municipalities in lowland Bolivia, this dissertation tested the links between popular participation and performance in the governmental processes. In Bolivia, separately selected institutional lines of the municipal government are designed and mandated to engage each other during the creation and execution of the annual budget. A variation in inter-institutional relations (bargaining) and power is telling with regard to the success of local government’s vertical accountability to the public. Although decentralization has had a minimal impact on the rate and effectiveness of popular participation in Bolivia, its effect on local government performance has been strong but not necessarily positive. In short, the public’s input appears marginalized by top-down control of channels for popular participation. Instead, institutional performance appears to be responsive to partisan politics, which have permeated most of the municipal offices. The institutional arrangements established to guarantee horizontal exchange are threatened by informal hierarchical relations binding one set of institutions to another, highlighting the need for good institutional design.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [352]-363).


xviii, 457 pages (some color pages), maps (some color pages)




Northern Illinois University

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