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Defining and measuring decentralisation: a critical review

Torrisi, Gianpiero and Pike, Andy and Tomaney, John and Tselios, Vassilis (2011): Defining and measuring decentralisation: a critical review.

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Abstract

This paper presents a conceptual analysis of terms belonging to the semantic field of state restructuring. The analysis aims to critically reviewing different terms focusing the attention both to the definitional and to the measurement sides. Different “types of decentralisation” are separately presented before reviewing a generalised approach aiming both at conceptualising and operationalising “regional authority” inside the internal structure of the state. In the final part the discourse is further generalised in order to take into account also external actors linking the analysis with the analytical framework of globalisation. The analysis confirms the persistence of a strong potential for confusion generating from the multitude of meanings attached to the term “decentralisation” and its related terms. However, having assembled terms together contributes to clarify and to interpret them more critically and in a more focused way. Moreover, the attention paid to the measurement side of the issue contributes also critically to interpret empirical analyses already realised in literature and, in perspective, could be a promising starting point for more focused future research.

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