Baldwin, K. (2014), When Politicians Cede Control of Resources: Land, Chiefs, and Coalition-Building in Africa. Comparative Politics 46(3): 253-271. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5129/001041514810943036
Why would politicians give up power over the allocation of resources to community leaders? This article examines why many African governments have ceded power over the allocation of land to unelected traditional leaders. In contrast to the existing literature, which suggests that traditional leaders' power is a historical holdover that has not been eliminated due to weak state capacity, I argue that African political leaders often choose to cede power to traditional leaders as a means of mobilizing electoral support from non-coethnics. I find support for this argument using a new subnational dataset that includes approximately 180 regions in eighteen African countries. The cross-sectional analysis is complemented by case studies of the dynamics of the devolution of power to traditional chiefs.
Link to article here.