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Sub National Capabilities for Decentralization Processes: the Case of Four Regions in Chile

Guillermo Díaz L. and Claudio Rivera M.

An effective decentralization is facilitated when regions or territories possess adequate institutional and social capabilities to apply new powers, responsibilities and decision with regard to public resources. Experiences worldwide reflect differences in the management and performance of sub national units and how public institutions acquire relevance on a regional/local level, and regional societies focus and become empowered in terms of decentralization processes.

This article aims to discuss these sub national capabilities. Conceptual, theoretical and empirical aspects are evaluated with regard to territorial capabilities in the implementation of decentralization processes, with emphasis on sub national governments and regional civil society. Subsequently, four regions in Chile are analyzed, based on secondary information and semi-structured interviews with key actors -both public and private- who participated in the implementation of public instruments, with delegation of faculties and resources to sub national territories.

Finally, the main differences in territorial capabilities detected among the four regions are mentioned, among which confidence, multilevel coordination, leadership and associativity are highlighted. Also takes significance the historical development of the regions; that is, experience in processes of coordination and articulation of different parties involved, as well as participation and empowerment of territorial actors in the development of public policies on a regional level. In view of the aforementioned, variations exist between the regions studied when implementing decentralization processes; as a result, some recommendations and suggestions for new lines of research are proposed.

Key words: Decentralization; Regions; Administrative Capability; Social Capital; Chile

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