There is a growing scholarly and policy awareness of the fact that informal institutions that lie wholly or partly outside formal state structures and that take on various governance-related functions have tremendous potential to strengthen citizen participation, encourage inclusive decision making and promote improved service delivery at the local level.
Local informal governance institutions that play an active role in promoting citizen participation in decision making at the municipal level exist all over the Western Balkans, and especially in the countries of the ex-Yugoslav state. However, systematic empirical research on these is limited.
This paper is an initial analytical attempt at bringing together some of the existing literature on these institutions in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia and Serbia, in order to set the ground for more systematic and detailed future research on these institutions in the region. The main question that this research study asks is, how do informal, sub-municipal governance institutions in the Western Balkans organise interaction and engagement between citizens and the state around service provision and other governance functions? Our work on local governance in the region indicates an important role that these informal institutions play in the areas of citizen participation, inclusive decision making, and service provision.
This article comes from the IDS Bulletin 45.5 (2014) Connecting Citizens to the State: Informal Local Governance Institutions in the Western Balkans