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Ideas for Future Research

We hope that this volume, as well as the rest of the GDN project, demonstrates the usefulness of comparative case studies about the effects of governance and institutional varieties on service delivery outcomes. This turns out to be true both when comparing across differences on institutional structures and local conditions across states or municipalities in a given country—as illustrated by the Colombian, the Peruvian, the Indian and the Philippines case studies—or across institutional reforms in different countries—as revealed both by the Chile and Uruguay and the Central and Eastern European case studies.

Further, we think this volume, as well as the rest of the GDN project, also shows the usefulness of combining quantitative and qualitative (surveys, structured interviews and focus groups) methodologies in approaching the question of how much and through which channels institutional structures impact quality and equity outcomes in service delivery, under different country or local settings. Hence, similar comparative research in other countries and group of countries would in all likelihood reveals further important conclusions for institutional reform in service delivery under different country or local settings.

Even more, such an approach covering other social and public service sectors (such as health, early childhood interventions, energy or telecoms) would reveal other important similarities and differences of the effects of institutional reforms across sectors, in particular, country settings, as those that we found between education, water supply and road systems.

In addition, some of the main conclusions of the GDN study, as summarized in this chapter, suggest specific questions for future research.

Does disclosure and dissemination of information on quality outcomes always promote effective accountability, or are there other institutional traits that condition such a result? For example, does such an effect depend critically on official reward incentives and sanctions to service providers in most cases? Or rather, does it depend on the existence of formal participatory channels that facilitate citizens to exercise their voice, or of competitive provision that permits their exercise of choice? controlled experiments might help bring further insights into these important questions for service delivery.

similarly, does financing through local taxation always lead to better service outcomes, than financing through equivalent transfers from central governments? Does such an effect always happen through enhanced accountability? Or do such potential effects depend on some other characteristic of local governments—for example, technical and administrative capabilities—or of the decentralization regime—for example, the level of autonomy of local governments or the availability of central agencies technical support? controlled experiments might also help elucidate some of these questions.

Finally, are there other examples—like the Slovenian and Chilean examples in education—that show that an effective participatory culture and accountability systems can be built in countries that come from a hierarchical non-participatory historical legacy in a relatively short period? Documenting well such cases would render a great service to reform- minded policy makers.

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