China Centre Tübingen (CCT)

Public Leadership and Good Governance in post-Suharto Indonesia

Despite the introduction of far-reaching decentralization, Indonesia has yet to realize the promise of more accountable and responsive modes of government. Problems of public corruption, elite capture, and patronage politics continue to stymie socioeconomic development and public welfare.

In this lecture, Dr. von Lübke argues that institutional rules on regional autonomy have been accompanied by distinctly different outcomes across Indonesia’s subnational polities. While many city and district governments have failed to bring about meaningful change, others have successfully improved administrative practices and services. What explains these diverging experiences? What sorts of forces have made decentralization work in in a subset of cases?

The empirical results show that leadership qualities of local mayors/regents have had strong effects, for better or worse, on district services and probity. Meanwhile, reform impulses from societal and private sector actors remain limited: field observations show that many small and medium businesses and societal groups continue to be constrained by problems of collective action and government dependency.

The lecture draws on qualitative and quantitative analyses conducted between 2005 and 2016: including three waves of an original local governance survey in eight districts (2600 questionnaires), a 200-district dataset on local public services and governance, as well as interviews with 250 government officials, firms, NGOs, and civil society actors.

Christian von Lübke is a political economist with particular interest in democratic governance and socio-economic development in Southeast Asia. While most of his professional and empirical work has focused on Indonesia and the Philippines, research interests increasingly extend to other parts of the region, including Thailand, Malaysia, and other parts of East Asia. His academic and professional work places an emphasis on interdisciplinarity and mixed methods. Before joining the Arnold-Bergstraesser Institute, Dr. von Lübke was a postdoctoral research fellow at Stanford University (2008-2011) and Waseda University (2007).

He has also worked as technical advisor for the World Bank and GIZ in various parts of rural Indonesia (2001-2006). In 2007, he joined an international team at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) analyzing effects of public-private action on investment and growth.

Dr. von Lübke’s research has been published in the Journal of Development Studies, Pacific Affairs, Asian Economic Journal, European Journal of East Asian Studies, Contemporary Southeast Asian Affairs, and Bulletin of Indonesian Economic Studies. He regularly contributes political analyses on Southeast Asia’s contemporary developments to Oxford Analytica.