Integrating Informal Institutions in Local Governance: Does it Matter?
IDS Working Paper 473
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In this paper we add to the literature on ‘informally institutionalised’ relationships between states and citizens by examining the case of a particular type of informal institution – Mjesna Zajednica (MZ) – that operates across the countries of the former Yugoslavia.
We use a mixed method approach to explore variation in the role and functions of MZs in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and use institutional variation across two parts of the country to test the claim that there is a relationship between strong legal frameworks and the role of MZs in strengthening citizen participation, inclusive decision-making, and improved service delivery.
Specifically, we ask whether legal status and the formal inclusion of informal institutions of citizen participation in local government processes make a difference to local governance, especially in terms of citizen participation and service delivery. We find evidence to suggest that bringing government closer to the people through the inclusion of local institutions in formal local government appears to matter for improved governance, especially in terms of citizen participation and service delivery.