Local government’s response to dissatisfaction with centralized policies: the “do-it-yourself” approach

Anna Uster, Nissim Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The literature on intergovernmental relationships discusses the tension between centralization and local autonomy. However, few studies question local authorities’ response when dissatisfied with central government policies. Using Hirschman's model of exit, voice and loyalty, we explore local government's response to such dissatisfaction. Specifically, we suggest that local authorities may adopt a “do-it-yourself” approach, unilaterally engaging in semi-legal strategies to improve outcomes. This solves immediate local organizational problems, without waiting for approval. Using the Israeli case, we show how a pervasive culture of “do-it-yourself” affects local governments’ responses. We also discuss implications for the relationship between the two bodies. Points for practitioners: Our findings shed light on local–central government relations, emphasizing the do-it-yourself approach. While this approach could strengthen political participation, increasing local government's involvement in public policy, it also enables local players to use semi-legal behaviors. Central government decision-makers might prevent these behaviors, strengthening administrative institutions’ enforce, regulatory enforcement and enhancing local autonomous political culture, transparency and integrity. By contrast, continuing to maintain weak formal institutions encourages the appearance of strong informal institutions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)825-841
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Review of Administrative Sciences
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2022.


  • Central and local government relations
  • Hirschman's model
  • dissatisfaction
  • exit
  • voice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration


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