Neopatrimonial Politics, Decentralisation and Local Government: Uganda and Malawi in 2006

Working and discussion papers
December 2007
Diana Cammack, Fred Golooba-Mutebi, Fidelis Kanyongolo and Tam O’Neil

This study is part of a larger, two-year programme of research on Governance, Aid Modalities and Poverty Reduction, which is expected to improve the design and implementation of Irish Aid‟s development and governance programmes in poorly performing hybrid states.

The study examines the impact of domestic politics on public sector reform in African states that are classed as neopatrimonial or 'hybrid', exploring three propositions. First, elite behaviour is governed by a particular political logic in hybrid states, leading them to use both formal and informal institutions to gain and retain power in (what tends to be) winner-takes-all competition for control of the state. Secondly, national and local elites instrumentalise reform processes according to this political logic. Thirdly, this explains why formal structures function in unexpected ways and reforms have unexpected outcomes – often to the detriment of development objectives.

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