Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

School of Politics and International Studies

Research Student: Dr Charles Gyimah

Decentralisation from 'Above' and Expectations from 'Below'

During the last two decades decentralisation has become a major concern in democratisation and development. Academics, policy makers, politicians and practitioners have sought to create opportunities for local people to participate in decision-making and to do so in way that affect their development.

Yet despite these stated intentions, no single and coherent conceptual framework has been developed to investigate into how decentralisation is actually linked to local-level development  how it can be meaningfully based on locally defined parameters and how it can more adequately incorporate the perspectives of local people.

Much of the literature on decentralisation too has long ignored the potentials and capabilities of local people to examine the real impact of decentralisation reform through the lens of their own development. Research has thus been rather better at outlining expectations and examining discourses than it has on practice and outcomes. As a result, decentralisation now requires a more practical and local analysis.

This paper explores the gap between the expectations and realities of decentralisation reforms. It thus seeks to both contribute to contemporary debates and to improve policy formulation. The central aim is to formulate a conceptual approach that counterposes the intentions behind decentralisation reform from 'above' and the expectations of development policy implementation from 'below'. This conceptual framework is oriented to the creation of space for local people to assess the outcomes of decentralisation through the lens of their own conception of development.

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