Administrative Reforms and Decentralization: India and Indonesia

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The paper compares the broad outlines of decentralization taking place in India, dating from the last decade of the past century, with that of Indonesia in the first decades of the present one. It focuses on the generally acknowledged least successful of reforms, namely that of public administration. Public administration tends to reflect the respective country’s prevailing norms. The paper opens with the more important contrasts between India and Indonesia with reference to governmental structure, respective colonial heritage, and focus of decentralization efforts. The crux of the paper is whether administrative decentralization furthers, hinders, or is neutral with regard to bureaucratic reform. Assessment of successes and failures leads to discussion of continued, if not higher, levels, of corruption/dysfunctional behaviour at all levels in the civil service. After disposing of misconceptions of the Weberian bureaucratic system inherited from the colonial past, possible improvements are postulated. Not surprisingly these originate from application of New Public Management (NPM), with a couple of new wrinkles. Such reform depends upon general public engagement. In comparison with India’s spontaneous mass demonstrations, hunger-strikes, and highlevel public condemnation of mega public corruption, this is conspicuous by its absence in Indonesia, where concentration has been on an anti-corruption court supplemented by experiments with a fledging evaluation system to monitor local progress on decentralization.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Public Administration Studies


  • administrative reforms, decentralization, India, Indonesia
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)68-86
Number of pages19
JournalSocial Science Spectrum
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Jun
Publication categoryResearch

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