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Land law reform in Kenya: devolution, veto players, and the limits of an institutional fix

Boone, Catherine and Dyzenhaus, David and Manji, Ambreena and Gateri, Catherine and Ouma, Seth and Owino, James Kabugu and Gargule, Achiba and Klopp, Jacqueline (2018) Land law reform in Kenya: devolution, veto players, and the limits of an institutional fix. African Affairs. ISSN 0001-9909 (In Press)

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Abstract

Much of the promise of the good governance agenda in African countries since the 1990s rested on reforms aimed at "getting the institutions right," sometimes by creating regulatory agencies that would be above the fray of partisan politics. Such "institutional fix" strategies are often frustrated because the new institutions themselves are embedded in existing state structures and power relations. This paper argues that implementing Kenya's land law reforms in the 2012-2016 period illustrates this dynamic. In Kenya, democratic structures and the 2010 constitutional devolution of power to county governments created a complex institutional playing field, the contours of which shaped the course of reform. Diverse actors in both administrative and representative institutions of state, at both the national and county levels, were empowered as "veto players" whose consent and cooperation was required to realize the reform mandate. An analysis of land administration reform in eight Kenyan countries shows how veto players were able to slow or curtail the implementation of the new land laws. Theories of African politics that focus on informal power networks and state incapacity may miss the extent to which formal state structures and the actors empowered within them can shape the course of reform, either by thwarting the reformist thrust of new laws or by trying to harness their reformist potential.

Item Type: Article
Official URL: https://academic.oup.com/afraf?searchresult=1
Additional Information: © 2018 Oxford University Press
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD100 Land Use
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
K Law > K Law (General)
Sets: Departments > International Development
Departments > Government
Date Deposited: 16 Apr 2018 15:55
Last Modified: 20 Apr 2018 09:17
Funders: International Inequalities Institute
URI: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/87486

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