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Decentralisation in Thailand and the Limits of The Functionalist Perspective of Institutional Reform

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Thailand has adopted democratic decentralisation since the mid-1990s. The reform agenda has primarily influenced by the functionalist view of institutional reform which depicts institutional effects as the intended consequences of their creators' action. It emphasises the significance of 'technocratic expertise' and 'rationality' in pursuing institutional reform, and, hence, overlooks complexities and difficulties which may obstruct institutional change. The experience of decentralisation in Thailand seems to contradict the conventional wisdom of the functionalist approach. The implementation of the decentralisation reform in Thailand has not completely achieved initial policy objectives, but, it, instead, produced unintended consequences. This paper empirically provides insights into the dynamics of decentralisation in Thailand which theoretically exposes the limits of the functionalist view of institutional reform.


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