When are decentralized public institutions most likely to succeed in promoting effective public good provision or the emergence of local cooperation? Two influential literatures in political science, those on "empowered participatory governance" and on "market-preserving federalism," both emphasize that getting the rules right is the decisive factor in determining the success of decentralized public institutions. Yet their emphasis on institutional rules obscures the fact that the predatory politicians and adversarial organizations that the two literatures design rules to contain also represent the two factors that are most likely to influence the success or failure of these institutions. Through an examination of recent French and Italian experiments in decentralized collaborative governance, this article argues that the social capacities of secondary associations and the ties between local and central politicians are in fact the principal determinants of how well decentralized governance institutions function.


Culpepper, Pepper D. "Institutional Rules, Social Capacity, and the Stuff of Politics: Experiments in Collaborative Governance in France and Italy." KSG Faculty Research Working Paper Series RWP03-029, June 2003.