Decentralisation and Policy Implementation: Thai Development Plans and Subdistrict Administrative Organisation (SAO) in Chiang Rai
Inpin, W. (2011). Decentralisation and Policy Implementation: Thai Development Plans and Subdistrict Administrative Organisation (SAO) in Chiang Rai (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/5948
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/5948
Moves to decentralise the government‘s administrative system has been one of the most important development issues in Thailand over the past two decades. These moves are seen most clearly in the establishment of the Subdistrict Administrative Organisation (SAO) across Thailand as the fundamental governing unit at the local administrative level. Decentralisation was introduced as a means of increasing the effectiveness of local government, promoting the transmission of power to the local people and encouraging greater local participation in policy making. The Ninth National Economic and Social Development Plan (2002-2006) promoted the development of the SAO to strengthen local government. The main purposes of decentralisation have been to balance the development of human, social, economic and environmental resources so as to achieve sustainable people-centred development, and promote the role of officials at the local level to increase the power of local government. The thesis examines implementation of this policy, drawing from theories on implementation in terms of 'top-down' and 'bottom-up' approaches, and policy implementation failure. Propositions are derived from these theories for testing in the research. The combination of the two approaches offers insights into key factors in policy implementation and what is needed to achieve better policy implementation. This study focuses on 1) the capacity of an SAO to implement the policies set out by central government, 2) the capacity of staff to determine and implement the policy, 3) the adequacy of revenue available to the SAO for policy implementation, 4) the extent of autonomy from central government to the SAO in providing public services, and 5) the nature and extent of participation by the people in Chiang Rai province in issues of policy formulation and implementation. Staff drawn from 45 government agencies at three different levels (central, provincial and local levels) in Chiang Rai provide the sample group for this study. This thesis found that the concept of decentralisation in Thailand was still new for both the Thai people and officials, and that the old bureaucratic systems continued to prevail. Local governance continues to be overseen partly by appointed personnel and the SAOs still rely heavily on central government for a wide range of matters. The lack of support from central government, insufficient revenue allocated to SAOs, inadequate autonomy, and various other deficiencies have limited the implementation of the policy. This study concludes that the government must eliminate problems arising from adherence to the old bureaucratic systems at local, provincial and central government levels if the policy of decentralisation is to succeed. Further, central government must ensure that staff who implement its decentralisation policy have the capabilities and experiences to implement the policy. The government also needs to ensure that the support is provided to the SAOs for the policy implementation process if the intended goals are to be achieved.
University of Waikato
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