Decentralization, Local Institutions and the Efficiency of Government Spending: A Qualitative Comparative Analysis of Irrigation Governance in Southern China

Decentralization, Local Institutions and the Efficiency of Government Spending: A Qualitative Comparative Analysis of Irrigation Governance in Southern China

Monday, February 24, 12 p.m.

Human Evolution and Social Change
Location: Wrigley Hall, 401
Campus: Tempe           
Cost: Free

Join us for the latest brown bag from the Center for the Study of Institutional Diversity, featuring associate professor Ying Chai at Guangdong University of Finance and Economics' National Economic Research Center. Chai is one of the center's visiting scholars.
 
All are welcome, and light refreshments will be served.
 
Abstract: In order to improve the efficiency of government spending, it is necessary for decentralized irrigation management to attain supports from local institutions. Efficient institutions take on several distinct configurations in different irrigation areas. In this research, Chai upgrades Tang’s (1992) framework focusing on incentives to a framework including incentives and coordination. Within the framework, he then classifies five institutional variables: market-based water pricing (P), routine fiscal investment (F), administrative coordination (C), self-organized management (S) and having a full-time water guard (G). Chai's work processes the data obtained through a field survey (2009-2011) in 20 of China’s southern counties, where they carry out the “Small-scale Irrigation and Water Conservancy Key Counties Construction,” a national project invested by the central government. Next, it applies Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA) to measure the efficiency of government spending and uses Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) to extract efficient institutional conditions. It concludes that there are generally three types of institutional configurations able to improve the efficiency of government spending, which are respectively: “F combined with C,” “P combined with S and C or P combined with S and F and G” and “S.” Among these, the second configuration is a mixed governance structure with multiple institutions coexisting, and this configuration occurs in most of efficient key counties. For that reason, it is viewed as the mainstream irrigation management approach and is expected to be the development trend in the future. However, the current public policies mainly focus on the coordination institutions of C and S rather than the incentive institutions or the institutional configuration. This has seriously obstructed the performance of decentralized management and government spending on irrigation. This article suggests that the policies should strengthen the incentive and coordination functions of these local institutions through marketizing water price, completing the WUA system, establishing routine fiscal investment regulations and promoting water guards as well. 


For more information
E-mail: jfraser@asu.edu
Website: Center for the Study of Institutional Diversity
Phone: 480-965-8318

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