Acta Politica

, Volume 44, Issue 4, pp 385–409 | Cite as

Explaining policy allocation over governmental tiers by identity and functionality

  • Arjan H Schakel
Original Article


The allocation of policies across governmental tiers varies greatly among countries. This article investigates the impact of identity and functionality pressures on the allocation of policies at the local, regional and national level. Using a data set that combines an expert survey and several country studies, this article shows that identity pressures lead to a greater concentration of policies at the regional level. The effect of identity pressures, however, is moderated by two policy characteristics. First, regional concentration is more pronounced for social–cultural policies than for economic utilities policies. Second, policies with high externalities and scale effects are less subject to regional concentration. They tend to be located at the level that seems most functionally appropriate. This is a proof that functionality bites – even in countries with strong regionalist parties.


policy allocation identity functionality postfunctionalism decentralization theorem 



I am grateful for the advice and comments of Ian Down, Anne–Marije van Essen, Imke Harbers, Adriaan Hoogendoorn, Liesbet Hooghe, Gary Marks, Menne Schakel and Wouter Schakel. Earlier versions were presented at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Katholieke Universiteit Nijmegen, and The Hanse Wissenschaftskolleg, Delmenhorst, and the 11th Biennial International Conference of the European Union Studies Association, Los Angeles, California, 23–25 April 2009.


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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Arjan H Schakel
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Social and Political Science, University of EdinburghEdinburghUK

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