Over the past 25 years, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of subnational administrative units within developing countries. Existing literature argues that presidents create new units to deliver patronage to citizens. But proliferation at lower tiers of the state, that are too administratively distant from the president to credibly serve as patronage, does not follow this logic. We build from the premise that the creation of a new lower level unit comes with the appointment of a local administrator who develops a neopatrimonial relationship with the legislator whose constituency subsumes their jurisdiction. Presidents leverage this neopatrimonial relationship and create lower level units for copartisan legislators to ensure legislative support and prevent party defections. We find evidence supporting this argument using new data from Kenya. These findings illuminate how leaders can use administrative reform to undermine legislative checks against executive power.


Hassan, Mai, and Ryan Sheely. "Executive-Legislative Relations, Party Defections, and Lower-Level Administrative Unit Proliferation: Evidence from Kenya." Comparative Political Studies 50.12 (October 2017).