Why do some local governments perform well, while others perform poorly? This question is at the center of Indonesia’s ongoing challenge to stimulate regional development and prosperity. The rapid shift from centralized-authoritarian to decentralized-democratic rule has prompted a large variation in subnational governance. Particularly local government performance – including subnational taxes, licenses and services – differ considerably across space and time. These variations offer exiting vantage points from which we can gauge contending explanations for good government and public reform.
Based on four comparative district pairs – in the provinces West Sumatra, Central Java, Bali, and Nusa Tenggara Barat – this study seeks to gauge bottom-up/demand-side pressures (from small/medium firms and civil society groups) and top-down/supply-side pressures from democratically-committed executive leaders (district mayors and regents). Are local policy variations closely linked to the quality of civil society or are they more closely correlated to the quality of local leadership?
To answer these questions, the current research project (April 2016 - July 2016) adopts a mixed-methods approach. Drawing on 800 local surveys (100 in each district) and 64 in-depth interviews, this project completes the third wave of local governance research (the first and second wave were conducted in 2006 and 2011).