New Waves of Decentralization in Southeast Asia: Analysis of Local Government Survey Data

IDE Research Bulletin

March 2020

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Background and objective

In the ASEAN countries, namely, Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines, decentralization reforms took place simultaneously during the 1990s in the course of democratization and the state restructuring process. The social and political effects of decentralization in these three countries were profound and extensive. The institutional changes during the transitional phase, as well as dimensions of "local politics" and political capture at the local levels, have been much emphasized in preceding studies on decentralization.

However, since the 2000s, the local governments in these countries have been assuming broader roles in public service delivery and local development. Thus, the other dimensions, such as capacity building, accountability, and autonomy of the local governments, have become major factors to be analyzed.

In this context, our project team conducted quantitative surveys in the above three countries from 2012 to 2014 to analyze the state of local government management with the support of KAKENHI 21252003 and 25283009 (the Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science). The study team focused on basic characteristics of the local governments and leaders, the development of local bureaucracy and elite bureaucrats, networks with major stakeholders, and participation of civil society to reach a comprehensive understanding of the local administration in each country.