PhD Candidate Adriana Molina Garzon and Dr. Krister P. Andersson have had their article "Decentralization Can Increase Cooperation among Public Officials" published in early view for the American Journal of Political Science.
Collective action among public officials is necessary for the effective delivery of many social services, but relatively little is known about how it can be fostered through policy reforms. In this article, we compare cooperation among public officials within decentralized versus centrally‐administered municipalities in Honduras. Leveraging a quasi‐experiment in health sector reform, coupled with behavioral games and social network surveys, we find that decentralization is associated with greater cooperation. When they are able to communicate, health sector workers in decentralized municipalities contribute more to a public good than their centrally‐administered counterparts. This increase in cooperative behavior results in part from the decentralization reform engendering greater numbers of interactions and stronger ties across different levels of government. These findings indicate that institutional reforms like decentralization can favorably reconfigure patterns of social interactions across public organizations, which is an important component of administrative capacity in developing countries.