Santiago Quintero Suarez

Thesis title:

The Politics of Impatient Bureaucracies. Public Sector Reform, Time Preferences and Local Policy Networks for Sustainable Development in Latin America


In politically fragmented and decentralised metropolitan areas, achieving long-term sustainable development is a formidable challenge for local governments. Local governments must commit to long-run collaboration to pursue sustainable development policies. Additionally, collaborative strategies require the enduring participation of stakeholders, and the consolidation of planning and coordination capabilities to implement policy decisions. The lesser the ability of municipalities to commit to collaborative sustainable development, the higher the chances of an urban “tragedy of the commons”.

In this regard, I investigate the effects of the professionalisation of Public Service Careers and the flexibilization and outsourcing of Human Services Contracting. I will analyse several metropolitan areas in Latin America to explore how these reforms affect local bureaucrats’ collaborative strategies within policy networks. Furthermore, I study how these reforms change bureaucrats’ interactions and behaviours, affecting local governments’ capabilities for making sustainable development policies collaboratively.

In this research, I aim to bring together recent literature from network governance, complexity sciences, and behavioural economics to better understand the problems of bureaucratic behaviour in the context of polycentric governance. Empirically, by comparing metropolitan areas with different public reform trajectories and similar development outcomes, I intend to advance empirical evidence for assessing the effects of public personnel management reforms on development policies. I will also provide new insights to better understand the local governance of sustainable development in emerging economies. Methodologically, I will employ a novel combination of computational modelling (ABM), field experiments, multivariate regression, and a comparative case study to complement existing, mostly qualitative approaches to policymaking in Latin America.

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