Administrative reforms in Peru, 2003-2006 : decentralization in name only?



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This dissertation examines Peruvian ministries' implementation of administrative decentralization, 2003-2006, and identifies factors shaping their decentralization policymaking. In administrative decentralization, implementation involves translating broad guidelines into sectoral transfer policies. Sectoral policymakers who execute decentralization mandates are, therefore, responsible for relinquishing authority and resources to subnational governments. Despite this challenging situation, little is known said about factors-- or otherwise--shaping the implementation of administrative decentralization. The initiation of state decentralization programs throughout Latin America has been examined and largely attributed to national political factors, rather than technical considerations. However, transferring power is not an assured outcome of national politicians' decisions to decentralize. This study explores a process that continued to be shaped by ministries after national political actors ceased to be involved; after a rapid start of top-down reforms, administrative decentralization virtually stalled under their control. Peruvian policy sectors are very heterogeneous, suggesting a need for distinct approaches to reform. Nevertheless, ministries' collective failure to implement rapidly has been attributed to generalized resistance to relinquish authority. This view is consistent with a bureaucratic politics-type understanding of public policymaking. However, my comparative analysis of decentralization policies reveals that self-interested resistance is significant but does not coherently explain policymaking or variation between policies. Furthermore, while resistance is ubiquitous, there are different types of resistance to reform, coming from autonomous offices, top policymakers, or the Presidency. In contrast, institutionalist lenses identify rules and processes that significantly condition possibilities for administrative decentralization. Policymakers face distinct challenges and opportunities in each sector; some ministries had deconcentration programs underway when national reforms started. While institutionalist lenses elucidate distinct conditions for reform, focusing on "audacious reformers" highlights the role of individual agency. The exceptional case of Health features a complex organization led by a reform-minded minister to the forefront of reforms. All three approaches to analyzing the implementation of administrative decentralization are complementary in providing coherent accounts of sectoral policymaking. Different combinations of institutional conditions, sectoral characteristics and individual motivations are ultimately responsible for variation among approaches to reform. Administrative decentralization emerges, not as one process, but as a constellation of particular paths of reform.