The Institutional Feasibility of National-Local Policy Collaboration: Insights from Brazil and Argentina

Tracy Beck Fenwick


The goal of this paper is to suggest that municipalities can facilitate the central government’s ability to carry out its desired policy goals. Using three institutional variables that provide internal evidence for each case, I will argue that within some institutional configurations the center may seek uniformity of outcome by trying to circumvent governors and/or regional intermediation and forge a direct relationship with municipalities. Based on research from the area of social protection policy in Brazil and Argentina, I suggest that direct national-local collaboration contributed to the ability of the Brazilian central government to bypass governors and evenly spread non-contributory welfare goods across its territory and alleviate poverty. I argue that such policy collaboration is less likely to be institutionally feasible in a federal system like Argentina’s, where such equivalent collaboration is impeded by the ability of its provinces to directly capture local units of government and undermine national policy outcomes and executive preferences.

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