Understanding decentralization: deconcentration and devolution processes in the French and Italian cultural sectors

Maria Elena Santagati (Department of Management, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy)
Sara Bonini Baraldi (Interuniversity Department of Regional and Urban Studies and Planning, University of Turin, Turin, Italy)
Luca Zan (Department of Management, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy)

International Journal of Public Sector Management

ISSN: 0951-3558

Publication date: 4 April 2020

Abstract

Purpose

Decentralization is a widespread and international phenomenon in public administration. Despite the interest of public management scholars, an in-depth analysis of the interrelationship between two of its forms – deconcentration and devolution – and its impact on policy and management capacities at the local level is seldom investigated.

Design/methodology/approach

This article addresses this gap by examining the implementation of deconcentration and devolution processes in France and Italy in the cultural field, combining the analysis of national reform processes with in-depth analyses of two regional cases. The research is the result of document analysis, participatory observation and semi-structured interviews.

Findings

The article reconstructs the impacts of devolution and deconcentration processes on the emergence of policy and management capacity in two regions (Rhone-Alpes and Piedmont) in the cultural sector. The article shows that decentralization in the cultural sector in France and Italy is the result of different combinations of devolution and deconcentration processes, that the two processes mutually affect their effectiveness, and that this effectiveness is deeply linked to the previous policy and management capacity of the central state in a specific field/country.

Originality/value

The article investigates decentralization as a result of the combination of deconcentration and devolution in comparative terms and in a specific sector of implementation, highlighting the usefulness of this approach also for other sectors/countries

Keywords

Citation

Santagati, M.E., Bonini Baraldi, S. and Zan, L. (2020), "Understanding decentralization: deconcentration and devolution processes in the French and Italian cultural sectors", International Journal of Public Sector Management, Vol. 33 No. 4, pp. 435-460. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJPSM-02-2019-0050

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Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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