Working Papers

Brett Carter and Mai Hassan. “Regional Governance in Divided Societies: Evidence from the Republic of Congo and Kenya.”


We argue that leaders employ one of two strategies to govern sub-national regions. These governance strategies, in turn, condition how leaders appoint and manage the regional executives to whom they delegate authority. In the co-optation strategy, leaders advance local welfare by appointing locally embedded regional executives, who are drawn from the local population and enjoy relatively long tenures. In the suppression strategy, leaders ensure that regional executives suppress local threats to the regime by minimizing local embeddedness, which entails appointing non-native executives and shuffling them frequently. The regional governance strategy that a leader employs, we argue, depends on the region’s ex ante level of regime support. We test the theory with original data from the Republic of Congo and Kenya, encompassing 250 regional executives across three presidents. Although incumbent governments in Congo and Kenya confront different local threats, our findings highlight how similarly they manage the tradeoffs of local embeddedness.


Mai Hassan and Thomas O’Mealia. “Representative Bureaucracy Here But Not There: Gender Norms and Quota Compliance in Kenya.”


Many countries have formally legislated or adopted gender quotas for government agencies in order to create more representative bureaucracies. The bureaucratic elites within an agency tasked with implementing the quota, however, may be hesitant to fully comply with the quota for front-line bureaucrats if (elites perceive) there is role incongruence among society for female bureaucrats. We argue that hiring elites will focus on hiring women in localities in which role incongruence is (perceived to be) smallest. We find support for this theory when we empirically evaluate appointments to the most important ad- ministrative and security agency in Kenya after the adoption of a gender quota. Our results suggest that legislation mandating bureaucratic change will produce uneven implementation as bureaucratic elites balance legislative oversight with gender congruence, thereby preserving bureaucratic autonomy while, in their opinion, maintaining the agency’s local clout.


Book Chapters in Preparation

Mai Hassan. “The Local Politics of Resource Distribution” in The Oxford Handbook of Kenyan Politics.

This chapter discusses the various institutions by which Kenyan presidents have distributed development resources to the population over the country’s first five decades after independence. Resource distribution during this period largely followed either a center-led or local-led track. Each president designed his own center-led resource distribution strategies to best distribute state resources to his co-ethnic base in light of the group’s geographic location and representation in the bureaucracy. Presidents have designed local-led tracks to check the power of, and since the return of multi-party elections to bargain with, legislative elites. The resulting distribution patterns of both tracks have been driven by ethnic politics within the distributing patron’s electoral constituency. The ethnic (sub-)groups that most strongly support the patron have been those that have benefited the most.

Mai Hassan. “Decentralization and Democratization.” in Handbook of Democratization in Africa.