Inter-municipal cooperation in between voluntarism and imposition

Authors: Eran Razin*, Hebrew University
Topics: Political Geography
Keywords: Inter Municipal cooperation, local government
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Stones Throw 2 - Slate, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Inter-municipal cooperation (IMC) aims to promote efficiency, effectiveness and distributional justice, representing a shift from centralized government hierarchies to decentralized governance networks. I discuss the evolution of IMC in Israel in a broad political-ideological context of neo-liberal prominence, accompanied by “post-political” and contradictory “neo-populist” trends. I argue for a paradoxical link between IMC and recentralization, in which local initiative is appropriated by the central state, as revealed in intensified central regulation, encouragement, “gentle imposition” and full imposition of these mechanisms. I assess whether recentralization is embedded in IMC: innovation is more likely to evolve bottom-up, but is subject to “spoilers”, such as uncommitted newly elected mayors who increase transaction costs in bottom-up voluntary IMC, and to the implicit desire of central state agents to adopt local innovations and control them. Moreover, centralization of IMC can be part of a broader process of recentralization, evident in current political circumstances in diverse countries such as Hungary and France. I assess three formal mechanisms of IMC in Israel: joint industrial parks, regional clusters (eshkolot) and water and sewage corporations, focusing on results of a detailed study of the first. All emerged as voluntary initiatives adopted by the state to serve national objectives, regional clusters remaining the more voluntary mechanism so far, water and sewage corporations becoming an imposed semi-nationalized mechanism. Imposed IMC does not necessarily achieve best objectives of cost-effectiveness, development and greater equality; although a certain amount of encouragement and gentle imposition is necessary, depending on the function and regional attributes.

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