University of Michigan Gateway Ford School

CLOSUP Conferences

Authority Migration

Ann Arbor, May 30-31, 2003

A Research Conference Sponsored by:

The University of Michigan’s

European Union Center
Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy


Political authority in many parts of the world is in flux. In many parts of Europe, Latin America, and Asia, nation-states are devolving authority to sub-national levels of government. For example, according to Dillinger (1994), 63 of 75 developing countries with populations above 5 million have undergone reforms in recent years that transferred significant political authority from national to local governments. Meanwhile, governments in these same regions and elsewhere, especially in the European Union, are together forming supra-national institutions that often can override national laws and regulations. Technological change, economic development and liberalization, and the increasing reach of governments have led to calls for more democratic and/or more efficient means to regulate and manage common resources and solve collective dilemmas among political units. The resulting institutional changes often reallocate authority either upward or downward.

These changes beg a vast array of theoretical and practical questions: what factors lead nation-states to shift authority over government decision-making to higher or lower levels? Are some institutions or political arrangements more or less resistant to such changes? Are some policy areas more or less resistant? What are the consequences of these migrations of political authority? What kinds of actors win and lose and in what ways? These questions cut across traditional disciplinary, substantive, and methodological boundaries and represent some of the most vexing questions in modern political economy.

To advance our understanding of the causes and consequences of authority migration, the University of Michigan's European Union Center and Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy are hosting a research conference in Ann Arbor on May 30-31. The conference will bring together scholars of law, political science, public policy, and economics. Participants are invited to present research at various stages of development. Presentations will be organized roughly into two sections: upward migrations of authority, including studies of international organizations, shared or pooled sovereignty, and regionalization; and downward migrations of authority, including studies of devolution, decentralization, and localization. The schedule will allow ample time for interaction between participants, in-depth analyses of paper presentations, and discussions of fruitful directions for current and future research.

Organized by:


Day 1: Friday, May 30, 2003
Location: Institute for Social Research (ISR), 6th Floor
Time Description
9:30-10:00 Paper presentation: David Lake, University of California, San Diego, “Globalization and Governance”
10:00-10:30 Paper presentation: Gary Marks and Liesbet Hooghe, both of University of North Carolina and Wissenschaftszentrum, Berlin, “European Integration and Democratic Competition”
10:30-11:15 Discussant: Christophe Crombez, Stanford University and the University of Leuven, Belgium.
11:30-12:30 Discussant: Ken Kollman, University of Michigan

Research memos:
  • Robert Axelrod, University of Michigan, “Authority Migration in Subnational, National and International Politics”
  • Simon Hug, University of St. Galen, Switzerland, “Federalism in the European Union”
  • Tulia Falleti, University of Notre Dame and the University of British Columbia, “Processes of Decentralization”
2:00-2:30 Paper presentation: Clark Gibson, University of California, San Diego, “Greening Local Politics: The Politics of Decentralizing Environmental Policy in Latin America”
2:30-3:00 Paper presentation: Rick Hills, University of Michigan Law School, “Against Preemption: How Federalism Can Improve the National Legislative Process”
3:00-3:45 Discussant: Elisabeth Gerber, University of Michigan
4:00-5:00 Discussant: Allen Hicken, University of Michigan

Research memos:
  • Bonnie Meguid, University of Rochester, “Impact of Decentralization on Voter Engagement in Western Europe”
  • Elisabeth Gerber, University of Michigan, “Decentralization and Land Use”
  • Robert Mickey, University of Michigan, “Party Organizations Amid Decentralization”

Day 2: Saturday, May 31, 2003
Location: Institute for Social Research (ISR), 6th Floor
Time Description
9:30-10:00 Paper presentation: Jenna Bednar, University of Michigan, “Federalism and Encroachment”
10:00-10:45 Discussant: Robert Mickey, University of Michigan
11:00-12:00 Discussant: Robert Franzese, University of Michigan

Research memos:
  • Jonathan Rodden, MIT, “Fiscal Federalism”
  • Olga Shvetsova and Mikhail Filippov, Washington University, St. Louis, “Designing Federalism”
  • Dawn Brancati, Columbia University and Princeton University, “Rise of Regional Party Systems”  | 
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