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Ghana’s decentralized governance system: the role of Chiefs

Ben Quarshie Honyenuga (Department of Management Sciences, Ho Technical University, Ho, Ghana)
Edem Happy Wutoh (Research Department, Volta Region House of Chiefs, Ho, Ghana)

International Journal of Public Leadership

ISSN: 2056-4929

Article publication date: 14 August 2018

Issue publication date: 21 February 2019




The purpose of this paper is to explore the extent to which Chiefs are involved in Ghana’s decentralization process and assess the benefits and challenges associated with the formal inclusion of Chiefs in local governance in Ghana.


The study applied a qualitative inductive approach and employed interviews and focus group discussions to gather data from selected traditional areas within the Volta Region of Ghana.


The findings reveal conflicting roles being performed by Chiefs and local government actors leading to role conflicts.

Research limitations/implications

Though the study is limited with respect to its scope, it opens up the debate regarding the position of Chiefs in Ghana’s decentralized local governance system and also serves as a useful point of reference for future research in the decentralization process and the Chieftaincy institution.

Practical implications

The paper provides an opportunity for stakeholders in Ghana’s decentralized local governance system to review the current decentralization policy to take care of the concerns of the traditional authorities at the grassroots. The recommendations, among others, call for a great deal of consensus building between the Chiefs and local government actors to enhance the success of the decentralization process.


The paper provides evidence regarding the loopholes in the structure of Ghana’s decentralized local governance system which appear to exclude the traditional authorities thereby affecting the smooth running of that system.



Honyenuga, B.Q. and Wutoh, E.H. (2019), "Ghana’s decentralized governance system: the role of Chiefs", International Journal of Public Leadership, Vol. 15 No. 1, pp. 2-18.



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