May 26, 2011, 6:01 p.m.
The development community is increasingly implementing decentralization programs as a means to provide accountable local governance while circumventing corrupt national politics. In Reshaping Institutions: Evidence on External Aid and Local Collective Action; Katherine Casey, Rachel Glennerster and Edward Miguel evaluate the impact of one of the most common decentralization strategies, a community directed development (CDD) program in Sierra Leone. While the authors find positive short-term effects on improving the welfare of the population, the CDD program had no long term impact on significantly reforming local institutions. The authors maintain that good institutions are crucial to sustainable growth, but argue that we have still failed to develop successful methods of reforming institutions and societal norms. CDD efforts, they conclude, have been unsuccessful at changing the de facto power structure of informal institutions, leading to no improvement in collective action or the status of marginalized groups.