What Is Local Autonomy?

  • Andreas Ladner
  • Nicolas Keuffer
  • Harald Baldersheim
  • Nikos Hlepas
  • Pawel Swianiewicz
  • Kristof Steyvers
  • Carmen Navarro
Part of the Governance and Public Management book series (GPM)


The balance between local autonomy and central control is a perennial issue in the territorial organisation of states. Despite the importance of local autonomy, there is little theoretical convergence regarding the core elements of the concept, and a limited number of studies try to measure local autonomy comparatively. This volume aims at filling this gap. On the grounds of a theoretically rooted concept, we measure the autonomy of local government in 39 European countries over a time period of 25 years. After presenting the main research intentions of this volume and the key issues regarding local autonomy, this chapter discusses the underlying normative values and the origins of the concept. What are the different theoretical perspectives and various aspects apprehended by the various disciplinary approaches? We conclude that local autonomy definitely is a multidimensional concept.


Local autonomy Local government Decentralisation reforms Normative rationales Multidimensional concept 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andreas Ladner
    • 1
  • Nicolas Keuffer
    • 1
  • Harald Baldersheim
    • 2
  • Nikos Hlepas
    • 3
  • Pawel Swianiewicz
    • 4
  • Kristof Steyvers
    • 5
  • Carmen Navarro
    • 6
  1. 1.IDHEAPUniversity of LausanneLausanneSwitzerland
  2. 2.Department of Political ScienceUniversity of OsloOsloNorway
  3. 3.National and Kapodistrian University of AthensAthensGreece
  4. 4.Department of Local Development and Policy, Faculty of Geography and Regional StudiesUniversity of WarsawWarszawaPoland
  5. 5.Department of Political ScienceGhent UniversityGhentBelgium
  6. 6.Department of Political ScienceUniversidad Autónoma de MadridMadridSpain

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