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LSE academic awarded W.J.M. Mackenzie Book Prize for 2013

Decentralization and Popular DemocracyDr Jean-Paul Faguet, Reader in the Political Economy of Development, has been awarded the 2013 W.J.M Mackenzie Book Prize for his book Decentralization and Popular Democracy: governance from below in Bolivia. The prize is awarded annually by the UK’s Political Studies Association to the best book published in political science.

Using the case of Bolivia, Decentralization and Popular Democracy identifies the factors that determine the outcomes of national decentralization on the local level. Dr Faguet combines broad econometric data with deep qualitative evidence to plumb the social underpinnings of governance. He shows how civic groups and firms interact to determine the quality of local decision-making. To understand decentralization, Dr Faguet argues that we must understand governance from the ground up. He concludes with a discussion of the potential benefits of decentralization and recommendations for structuring successful reform.

The book was a unanimous choice for the jury of distinguished academics and journalists, who commented: “The book is an outstanding and exemplary piece of research that teaches us how properly devolving power and money leads local government to be more responsive to local interests. The book makes both a major theoretical contribution regarding the impacts of federalism and decentralisation, and conducts a thorough evaluation of a major programme of decentralisation in Bolivia. The theory is driven by a clear and sensible intuition that decentralisation should lead to diversity between local authorities because of different local political pressures. This is fully developed in a formal rational choice model. The empirical analysis is a rare combination of both excellent quantitative and qualitative analysis, involving a mixture of econometric analysis of local government spending over time and thorough ethnographic fieldwork on the workings of local government in various districts. The fieldwork is particularly striking for the effort involved in studying difficult to reach places and in revisiting locations ten years apart, before and after the decentralisation. The research is all the more effective for such a breadth of method and thorough analysis.”

Dr Faguet said: “I am completely surprised and honoured by this award. The jury’s comments show that they read the finalists very carefully indeed. Plus this is the first international development book in a very impressive list, so I feel very fortunate.”

The award will be presented by Jon Snow of Channel 4 News at a ceremony on Tuesday 26 November.

12 September 2013