The Joint Effect of Participatory Governance, Elections, and Access to Information on Local Government Responsiveness in Guatemala

Johanna Speer (Humboldt University)

Abstract: Three types of institutions have been advocated to improve local public service provision in developing countries. Local elections, participatory governance, and improved citizen access to information have each been argued to overcome the principal-agent prob-lem between a local government and its mainly poor electorate. This paper examines which combination of these institutions increases the responsiveness of Guatemalan local gov-ernments to the needs of the rural poor. Drawing on primary data from ten Guatemalan municipalities, the empirical assessment is carried out as a fuzzy-set Qualitative Comparative Analysis (fsQCA). The paper finds that local elections and participatory governance arrangements, which are often portrayed as alternative approaches to good governance, jointly foster local government responsiveness. Information provision through the media is not found to contribute to responsive local governance. This is explained by the fact that local media in Guatemala usually do not have the resources to undertake investigative journalism. Finally, a high level of education can increase the effectiveness of participatory governance or local elections but it is not found to be a necessary condition for responsive local governance.