Ghost Towns: Challenges Facing the Charter Cities Project In Honduras
[Technical Report, Master's Thesis]
Naval Postgraduate School
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This thesis examines economist Paul Romers charter city model as a mechanism to improve governance, through the lens of the case study in Honduras. It builds on development theory and studies of special economic zones to contribute to the limited scholarship on the program. Romers idea represents a novel approach to development, but its theoretical foundation leaves room for troublesome application. Honduras embraced Romers model at first but altered several of its key features, to the detriment of the project. As a result, their experiment is not indicative of the potential of Romers idea but highlights areas where the project can go astray. As of this publishing, no country has successfully implemented a test case for the model Romer envisions. The program in Honduras retains legal, if controversial, justification, and resembles a national development initiative more than Romers innovative proposal. Future attempts at launching Romers model should take great care to implement his ideas precisely as designed, otherwise a definitive trial case cannot exist. Given legal challenges and popular skepticism, Honduras would be wise to curtail its pursuit of the initiative and prioritize resources toward institutional reform and transparency. This case study may not allow conclusive assessment of Romers proposal, but it can be instructive in highlighting critical areas that have hindered the project and elements of its design that may tend to be problematic.
- Government and Political Science