When Local Government Works: An Introduction to the Special Issue on Local Participation as a Pillar of Community Development

  • Peerasit Kamnuansilpa College of Local Administration, Khon Kaen University
  • Gayl D. Ness Department of Sociology, University of Michigan. Adjunct Faculty, Khon Kaen University
  • Richard Pratt Adjunct Faculty, Khon Kaen University
Keywords: Local Government, New Public Management, Southeast Asia


Brexit, the British vote to leave the European Union, is only a recent and dramatic example of a phenomenon that is sweeping the world today: the push for political decentralization. After some eight centuries of increasing political centralization, a tide has turned. European movements to build the modern state can be traced to the 12th century. Then the Western imperialist thrust of the 16th-19th centuries brought the modern politically centralized state to the rest of the world. More recently we have seen attempts to build more centralized multistate systems, weakly in the League of Nations and United Nations and more strongly in the European Union. That movement now appears to have generated a counter movement. Today we see everywhere strong movements to decentralize political power and to bring more authority and responsibility back to local government.

This raises the profound and challenging question of what local governments can do and are positioned to do. The cases in this issue are an important response to that many-sided question. The articles in this issue consist of two groups. The first seven articles examine local leaders in six Southeast Asian countries that have identified a problem, created an intervention to address that problem, and either had a successful outcome or learned valuable lessons.4 The second group consists of two additional cases from Japan and Thailand, structured using a different format, and provide further compelling examples of initiatives at local levels.


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Kamnuansilpa, P., Wongthanavasu, S., Ando, H., & Ness, G.D. (2014). Thailand decentralizes: The pace and the prospect. Khon Kaen: College of Local Administration.

Kamnuansilpa, P., Wongthanavasu, S., Ando, H., & Ness, G.D. (2013) Thailand decentralizes: Local views. Khon Kaen, Thailand: College of Local Administration.

Kiwanuka, M. (2015). Beyond Symbolic Politics: Reframing the convergence of fiscal decentralization and political accountability in the Ugandan and Thai local government. Paper presented at the 6th International Conference on Local Government, Khon Kaen, Thailand, September 2015.

Pratt, R. & Takahashi, N. (2013). Musashino Place and the concept of responsible flexibility: The public organization of the future for local government? The Journal of Social Science, 76, 25-54.

Pratt, R. (2006). New Public Management, globalization, and public administration reform. In J. Dator, D. Pratt, & Y. Seo, Fairness, globalization and public institutions – East Asia and beyond. University of Hawai`i Press, pp. 101–112.

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World Bank. (2005). Decentralization & subnational regional economics. The World Bank Group. Accessed April 16, 2016. http://www1.worldbank.org/publicsector/decentralization/what.htm.
How to Cite
Kamnuansilpa, P., Ness, G. D., & Pratt, R. (2017). When Local Government Works: An Introduction to the Special Issue on Local Participation as a Pillar of Community Development. Social Science Asia, 3(2), 1-11. Retrieved from https://socialscienceasia.nrct.go.th/index.php/SSAsia/article/view/22
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