Learning to Share: Under What Conditions Do States Delegate Governance?



Aila Matanock, Stanford

Date and Time

April 21, 2009 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM



Open to the public.

RSVP required by 5PM April 20.


Encina Ground Floor Conference Room

A potential solution for weak or failing states is to enact a delegation agreement whereby a host relinquishes authority over some governance function to an external actor. Through case studies in Melanesia, I find that these arrangements can be implemented as treaties, rather than contracts, so that the external actor can in such cases remain somewhat exempt from the normal procedure or law of the host state. I also generate hypotheses about the conditions under which host states and external actors enact these self-enforcing equilibria: host states request these agreements either where a failure of law and order requires assistance to reestablish control over the use of force, or where a budgetary crisis necessitates funding to provide public goods. External actors agree to them where the host state poses a transnational security threat, and where the reputational and actual costs of the mission are low, as judged against alternative methods for resolving the threat. The next step in this project, then, is to test these hypotheses in other cases to see if similar agreements are enacted in different regions, and, if so, whether the same incentives also explain the decisions elsewhere.

Aila M. Matanock is a Ph.D. candidate in political science at Stanford. Her current research is on effective governance for minimizing conflict, and on bringing violent groups into elections in conflicted states. Before coming to Stanford, she was employed by the RAND Corporation as a research assistant and summer associate on non-proliferation and counterterrorism projects. She received an undergraduate degree magna cum laude in Social Studies from Harvard University, while also working with the Belfer Center's Managing the Atom Project and with the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Seminar summary:

In her presentation, "Learning to Share: Under What Conditions do States Delegate Governance?" Aila Matanock seeks to define the concept of delegated governance and to identify the circumstances under which it arises. Drawing from field research with political elites in Australia and the Melanesian micro-states, she presents the variation in degrees of shared governance arrangements, from strict delegation to semi delegation, contracting and monitoring.

She defines delegated governance as an arrangement between a host state and an external actor that involves sharing in the decision function of the host state. She emphasizes the incentives of both host state and external actor as a framework for identifying the set of conditions under which we might expect to observe delegated governance. She argues and finds, in the Melanesian cases, that host states are more likely to seek delegation agreements if (1) they have lost their monopoly over the use of force (and there is no civil war or major ethnic cleavage); or (2) they are suffering from a severe budgetary crisis. External actors, for their part, enter into such agreements based on the costs they believe they will incur: reputational gains within the international community and domestic support for the delegation arrangement decrease an external actor's cost perception and increase its likelihood of entering into such an agreement. Matanock concludes that the Melanesian cases inform us that governance delegation is not an infrequent phenomenon. It is likely to emerge where lawlessness threatens both the host and external actor, but is constrained by the level of violence and the cleavages in society.

Matanock's presentation prompted questions about the scope and generalizability of the argument (To what extent do these findings reflect a special relationship between Australia and the Melanesian states? Would this apply in larger states such as Cambodia and Liberia, where the costs to an external actor might be greater?); the specific factors leading to the choice of delegated governance over other options (such as contracting, monitoring,...); and the power relationship between external actor and host state.