Collage of seminar photos. © UNU-WIDER

Presentations by Anne Kantel and Virgi Sari

WIDER Seminar Series

PhD students Anne Kantel of the American University and Virgi Sari of the University of Manchester will both give 30-minute presentations at the seminar on 8 November. 

Anne Kantel: Abstract – Decentralizing or delegitimizing environmental governance? ‘Scapegoating’ and ‘tribalizing’ as mechanisms of power in Uganda’s hybrid regime

When and why do people follow rules governing access to and distribution of our planet’s natural resources? In reaction to previously failed state-centered as well as market-oriented environmental policies, the 1990s witnessed the global spread of decentralized and community-based approaches emphasizing the importance of local participation for the sustainable and equitable management of natural resources. In this paper, I use Uganda – a state that underwent one of the most far-reaching local government programs in the world – as an exemplifying case to study the effects of decentralization on people’s perceived legitimacy of and compliance with rules governing fish, land and water resources. Drawing on seven months of empirical field research, I illustrate that decentralized governance in Uganda created a permissive environment that enabled the emergence and spread of two mechanisms of power, ‘scapegoating’ and ‘tribalizing,’ which cause a decrease in the perceived legitimacy of and compliance with environmental rules in the country. By allowing actors to shift responsibilities from one governance level to another and by opening a constitutive space for politicized ethnic identities to determine which actors and rules are legitimized or not, decentralized environmental governance in Uganda is hurting rather than contributing to the sustainable and equitable management of the area’s natural resources.

Virgi Sari: Abstract – Decentralization and education quality in Indonesia: The relative role of government policy vis-à-vis political and social norms

This paper sets out to examine the relative importance of government policies vis-à-vis political and social norms in explaining trends in education outcomes across schools in Indonesia. Taking advantage of the natural experiment called “Big Bang” decentralization, the paper studies the impact of a decentralized education system on education quality and access across different types of schools and communities. Using data from the Indonesian Family Life Survey (IFLS) and Village Census (PODES), it sets to de-bottlenecking the mechanism of decentralization in determining education quality. Thus, it seeks to unveil the role of political and social norms in influencing the potential of a decentralized education system in facilitating improvement in education outcomes and in the provision of inclusive education service. Preliminary findings show the presence of a spillover-effect from the policy, benefiting more of private schools. There are indications through which political and social norms lead to a particular preference in channeling the education finance toward private schools more than the public schools after the decentralised education system has taken place.

WIDER Seminar Series

The WIDER Seminar Series showcases recent and ongoing work on key topics in development economics. The weekly sessions held in Helsinki are open to local and visiting researchers, policy makers, and others working on development topics. Click here to read more about the WIDER Seminar Series.