Polycentrism and Gargantua

Posted: 4 Nov 2010 Last revised: 6 Aug 2012

See all articles by Peter J. Boettke

Peter J. Boettke

George Mason University - Department of Economics; Mercatus Center at George Mason University

Christopher J. Coyne

George Mason University - Department of Economics; George Mason University - Mercatus Center

Peter T. Leeson

George Mason University - Department of Economics; George Mason University - Mercatus Center

Date Written: November 3, 2010

Abstract

How should governments publicly provide goods and services? One option is to do so polycentrically – through multiple, autonomous, local decision-making centers. Alternatively governments may organize public good provision monocentrically – through a singular, centralized, higher-level decision-making center. We call the former arrangement “polycentrism” and the latter one “gargantua.” This paper investigates the costs and benefits of polycentrism and gargantua. We argue that polycentrism is superior. Polycentric provision permits localities to discover and deploy the efficient scale of public good provision, small or large. Gargantua precludes small-scale provision as an option even when it’s efficient. To investigate our argument we consider governments’ consolidation of public education in the United States.

Keywords: education, gargantua, polycentrism

Suggested Citation

Boettke, Peter J. and Boettke, Peter J. and Coyne, Christopher J. and Leeson, Peter T., Polycentrism and Gargantua (November 3, 2010). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1702681 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1702681

Peter J. Boettke

Mercatus Center at George Mason University ( email )

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George Mason University - Department of Economics ( email )

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Christopher J. Coyne (Contact Author)

George Mason University - Department of Economics ( email )

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Fairfax, VA 22030
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.ccoyne.com/

George Mason University - Mercatus Center ( email )

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Arlington, VA 22201
United States

HOME PAGE: http://ppe.mercatus.org/scholars/christopher-coyne

Peter T. Leeson

George Mason University - Department of Economics ( email )

4400 University Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.peterleeson.com

George Mason University - Mercatus Center ( email )

3434 Washington Blvd., 4th Floor
Arlington, VA 22201
United States

HOME PAGE: http://ppe.mercatus.org/scholars/peter-leeson

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