Department of Political Science

POLS 568 Prof. D. King

Fall 2005 CSEAS Adams 411

Wed. 3:30p-6:10 Tel. 753-1771

DuSable 464 Tues. 11-12

Zulauf 405

Tel. 753-7054

Fri. 1:30-3

POLS 568: Seminar in Political Economy of Developing Areas

This graduate seminar focuses on the relationship between politics and economics in the context of developing societies. This, of course, is a basic and long time issue of social theory. Despite the title in the Graduate Catalog, I take the position that there is no such thing as the theory of political economy, in the sense of a single, universally accepted, complex of assumptions, hypotheses, logic and methodology. Rather, there are various ways of conceptualizing politics and economics and a variety of theories concerned with the relationship between them, although not every theory bearing the "political economy" qualifies. Also, I reject the narrow view that political economy refers to analysis of politics by economic methods. Rather, analysts working in the field have tended to be interested in issues of power (whose interests are being served by any given set of economic arrangements?), in the degree to which operation of markets is affected by non-market institutions such as the government and skeptical about the distributive efficiency of markets. Thus political economy refers to a particular field or agenda and a continuing intellectual enterprise rather than to a specific approach, method or theory. As globalization progresses, it becomes increasingly difficult to demarcate the boundaries between this seminar and POLS 584, International Political Economy. But in general, we will focus more on political economy issues that have their locus within developing societies (e.g. decentralization).

Our beginning point is conceptual and theoretical. We will identify different conceptions of the economic and political and explore a variety of theories about the relationship between them. Next we will consider how these have been utilized in the theory and practice of development.

Following the mid-term, the latter half of the course will be devoted to the political economy of decentralization, a major issue in most less developed counties as they seek to develop economically and politically (democratization). Again our beginning point will be conceptual and theoretical. Then assisted by your comparative case studies, we will look a the political dynamics of current decentralization initiatives in several parts of the world, and seek to understand the major factors that promote or impede the promulgation and implementation of decentralization efforts.

Course Requirements

1. Class preparation and Participation (35%). The seminar format will be taken seriously; you are expected to complete assigned readings on schedule (see below) and to come to class prepared to analyze, synthesize and critique them. If reading reviews or study questions have been assigned in a previous class session, you are expected to post your answer to them on Blackboard no later than two days prior to the date they are scheduled to be discussed in class.

During the last couple weeks of the semester, you will be assigned either to give an "oral defense" of your comparative case study or to (constructively) critique the papers of several classmates. The oral defense will consist of a concise synopsis, no more than 10 minutes in length, followed by discussion in which the author-defender responds to the questions and comments of other class members. Preparation for the defense will also include posting a copy of your complete first draft on Blackboard at least five days in advance. Your performance on the oral defense, including adherence to pre-arranged schedule/deadlines, will constitute about one-third of your participation grade or 10% of your course grade. (Due to the large size of the class, there will not be time for everyone to defend their paper. So I will select about half of them.)

If you are not selected to defend, you will be assigned to serve as critical reviewer for one or more papers of classmates. For this assignment, you will be expected to read the assigned papers and to prepare in advance of their defense 1-2 pages of constructive criticism and to post it on Blackboard at least two days in advance of the scheduled defense. You may draw on your prepared critique during the questioning of the presenter/defender in class.

Thus, your grade on the class preparation and participation component will be derived from attendance, the quality of your oral participation in class discussions, the oral defense of your (draft) research paper and your comments on classmates' research papers.

2. Mid-term Examination. There will be an in-class, open note examination on October12 (week 8) which will count 25% of your course grade.

3. Research Paper (40%). You are expected to write an approximately 20-25 page paper in which you analyze (incl. compare) centralization versus decentralization in two developing countries of your choosing . Students counting this course toward requirements of the Southeast Asia Concentration must write on countries in that geographical area. You are expected to draw upon the required readings below for ideas in formulating your analytical framework (incl. definitions, concepts, indicators, theses/hypotheses) and to observe the following schedule:

Sept. 28 (week 6): last day to have your countries chosen and approved by Mr. King

Nov.2 (week 11): last day for submitting a prospectus (i.e. tentative, working plan) of your paper to Mr. King. It should contain a brief statement about your theses/hypotheses, operationalizations, types of evidence, major bibliographic sources and tentative outline

Nov.16 or 30 (weeks 13 and 15): orally defend your research paper based on complete first draft circulated a week in advance or critically comment on those of others.

Dec.7 (week 16): revised version of paper due (A progressive penalty will be levied against late papers, except in the event of emergency as defined by Mr. King).

Note: There will not be a final exam.

Research questions

Following Hutchcroft (2001, pp. 34-37), one can examine he particular features of a given political system using the following questions and roughly determine its placement on a continuum of relatively more centralized versus relatively more decentralized:

Are local executives appointed by the center or elected by popular vote? Are there effective mechanisms for popular participation at the local level? Are there municipal, provincial, state, and /or regional legislative bodies with substantial decision-making authority? Is there a concentration of socioeconomic and /or coercive power in local patrons and bosses? Is there a national legislature with significant decision-making authority. If there are effective legislative bodies, do they function within a parliamentary or a presidential system? Are national legislators elected or appointed? To what extent does the electoral system provide for representation of local or regional interests in the national legislature? Are political parties organized along national or local/regional lines and what is their level of internal cohesion. To what extent are administrative structures insulated from party patronage.?


The literature in this field is vast. This syllabus gives only a small, highly selective list of required readings on which our discussions will focus. All required readings except one (Rapley) have been placed on electronic reserve. Rapley has been placed on print reserve and should be available at local book stores.

Course Outline

week and date topic and reading assignment

1 8-24 Introduction to the course

I. Analytical Tools: Concepts, Approaches and Theories

2 8-31 1. James Caporaso and D. Levine, Theories of Political Economy (Cambridge, 1992), pp. 1-32 (Introduction and Chapter 1); and pp. 217-225 (Conclusion)

2. Frank Stilwell, Political Economy (Oxford, 2002), pp. 3-10

3. Peter Hall, "The Role of Interests, Institutions, and Ideas in the Comparative Political Economy of the Industrialized Nations," pp 174-198 in M. Lichbach and Zuckerman (eds), Comparative Politics (Cambridge, 1997)[JA 86.C52 1997]

Recommended: M. Staniland, What is Political Economy?, pp. 1-35 [HB 73.S69 1985];

3 9-7 1. B.C. Smith, Decentralization,(George Allen and Unwin, 1985) pp. 1-45; 201-206 (Chapters 1-2, and 11);

2. Larry Diamond, Developing Democracy (Johns Hopkins, 1999), pp 117-160 (Chapter 4)

4 9-14 1. Vito Tanzi, Policies, Institutions and the Dark Side of Economics (Cheltenham, UK, 2000) pp. 231-263 (Chapter 14)

2. Vito Tanzi, "Pitfalls on the Road to Fiscal Decentraliztion," Working Paper No. 19, Global Policy Program, Carnegie Endowment, 2001 (entire) <>

3. World Bank, "Decentralization: Rethinking Government," Chapter Five of World Development Report 1999/2000 (Oxford Univ.Press, 2000), pp. 107-24; see also "Selected Indicators on Decentralization," pp. 216-217

5 9-21 Paul Hutchcroft, "Centralization and Decentralization in Administration and Politics: Assessing Territorial Dimensions of Authority and Power," Governance 14, No. 1, January 2001, pp 23-53

6 9-28 1. John Rapley, Understanding Development (Lynne Rienner, 2002) Second edition (entire)


7 10-5 Continuation and review


II. Empirical Experiences in Decentralization

A. Latin America

9 10-19 1. Christopher Garman et al. "Fiscal Decentralization," World Politics 53 (January 2001), 205-36.

2. Kent Eaton, "Risky Business: Decentralization from Above in Chile and Uruguay," Comparative Politics 37, No.1, Oct. 2004, pp. 1-22

3. J. Tyler Dickovick, "Centralism and Decentralization in Unitary States: A comparative Analysis of Peru and Senegal," Journal of Public and International Affairs 14 (2003), pp. 1-30

B. Indonesia

10 10-26 1. James Alm et al.(eds) Reforming Intergovernmental Fiscal Relations and the Rebuilding of Indonesia, (Edward Elgar, 2004) ch. 1-4,( pp. 1-74).

2. Vedi Hadiz, "Decentralization and Democracy in Indonesia: A Critique of Neo-Institutionalist Perspectives," Development and Change 35 (4):697-718 (2004).

C. Africa

11 11-2 1. Paul Francis and R. James, "Balancing rural Poverty Reduction and Citizen Participation: The Contradictions of Uganda's Decentralization Program," World Development 31, No.2, pp. 325-337

2. Catherine Boone, "Decentralization as Political Strategy in West Africa," Comparative Political Studies 36, No. 4 (May 2003) pp. 355-380

3. Richard Crook, "Decentralisation and Poverty Reduction in Africa. The Politics of Local-Central Relations," Public Administration and Development 23, 77-88 (2003)

12 11-9 Individual work on papers in lieu of class


14 11-23 Thanksgiving holiday, no class session