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Governance on the Ground

, 304 pages

1 map

September 2003



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Governance on the Ground

Innovations and Discontinuities in Cities of the Developing World

Governance on the Ground describes people at a local level working through municipal institutions to take more responsibility for their own lives and environment. This study reports what social scientists in eight local networks found when they chose their own subjects for a worldwide comparative study of institutional reform at the local level. Governance on the Ground is the culminating product of the Global Urban Research Initiative, a major 10-year research effort that created a worldwide network of some 400 social scientists.

The topics these scholars cover include fiscal innovation, infrastructure projects, social development, housing, harbor development, and political party participation. Material comes from Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Brazil, Sudan, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Lebanon, Israel, Egypt, Bangladesh, India, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines.

All chapters present governance at a local level in a period characterized by decentralization and democratization, when many governments were improving local accountability and transparency and people were actively participating in public forums, especially through institutions of civil society. Many chapters show the close connection between social science and actual policy formation and implementation in the developing world.

Patricia McCarney is an associate professor of political science at the University of Toronto. Richard Stren is a professor of political science at the University of Toronto, where he has also been director of the Centre for Urban and Community Studies.

"A very important publication on urban governance in a variety of national and regional settings within the developing world."

"The evidence gives rise to cautious optimism as local residents learn to take control of existing institutions and frame their own to serve their interests."