Decentralization is one of the commonest government policy measures found in the past 20 years. The very nature of its popularity, espoused across all colours of the political spectrum, indicates that this is a measure that holds different meaning for different people in terms of what it is and what it is for. Academic work interacts with the policy environment through two distinct bodies of research. On the one hand, political and economic theorists of fiscal federalism, since de Toqueville over a hundred years ago, adopt a normative perspective to determine what activities should be decentralized and which best kept under central control (Oates 1999). On the other hand, empirical approaches attempt to describe and compare the details of real experiences with decentralization in order to evaluate their success or otherwise according to defined goals.
Atkinson, S. Approaches to studying decentralisation. Saltman, R.; Bankauskaite, V.; Vrangbaek, K. (eds). In: Decentralization in health care: strategies and outcomes. Oxford University Press, (2007) ISBN 0 335 21925 X (pb), 0 335 21926 8 (hb), 978 0 335 21925 4 (pb), 978 0 335 21926 1 (hb)