Administrative Unit Proliferation

39 Pages Posted: 11 Sep 2013

See all articles by Guy Grossman

Guy Grossman

University of Pennsylvania

Janet I. Lewis

United States Naval Academy

Date Written: 2013


Numerous developing countries have substantially increased their number of sub-national administrative units in recent years. The literature on this phenomenon is, nonetheless, small and suffers from several theoretical and methodological shortcomings; in particular, a unit of analysis problem that causes past studies to mistakenly de-emphasize the importance of local actors. We posit that administrative unit proliferation occurs where and when there is a confluence of interests between the national executive and local citizens and elites from areas that are politically, economically and ethnically marginalized. We argue further that although the proliferation of administrative units often accompanies or follows far-reaching decentralization reforms, it likely results in a recentralization of power; the proliferation of new local governments fragments existing units into smaller ones with lower relative intergovernmental bargaining power and administrative capacity. We find support for these arguments using original data from Uganda.

Suggested Citation

Grossman, Guy and Lewis, Janet I., Administrative Unit Proliferation (2013). APSA 2013 Annual Meeting Paper; American Political Science Association 2013 Annual Meeting. Available at SSRN:

Guy Grossman

University of Pennsylvania ( email )

133 S. 36th Street
Perelman Center for Political Science and Economic
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States
(215) 898-4209 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://

Janet I. Lewis (Contact Author)

United States Naval Academy ( email )

121 Blake Road
Annapolis, MD 21402
United States

Register to save articles to
your library


Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics