Author's School

Graduate School of Arts & Sciences

Author's Department/Program

Political Science


English (en)

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Chair and Committee

Brian Crisp


How legislators behave and how cohesively parties act are influenced, to a great extent, by the institutional environment within which they operate. While most research has regarded each institution separately, this dissertation project seeks to theorize and to empirically examine the complex institutional context that affects legislators' behavior and representation styles. I specifically shed light on how electoral systems and intra-party candidate selection processes, separately and in combination, influence how much legislators emphasize their unique individualistic behaviors at the expense of their parties' collective unified reputations. I argue that electoral systems and candidate selection procedures conditionally structure the incentives and institutional environment within which a legislator operates. Chapter 2 presents a theoretical/conceptual distinction between electoral systems and intra-party candidate selection processes and critiques the current literature that usually amalgamates them into a single factor. I further justify this distinction by empirically showing the lack of a strong association between the two institutions. Chapter 3 presents my theory concerning the distinct and combined conditional effect of electoral systems and selection processes on legislators' behavior. I support my assertions using party-level models that use Rice cohesion scores and Weighted Rice cohesion scores as outcome variables. Chapter 4 tests my theory using individual level analysis which uses the ideological distance of a legislator from the median position of his or her party as a measure of behavior. To this end, I have collected a number of unique data sets that include information about parties' candidate selection processes, parties' cohesion measures, and individual legislators' ideological distances. Using these original data sets, I can support my theory concerning the conditional combined effect of electoral systems and intra-party candidate selection processes on legislators' behavior. The incentives and constraints legislators face are more convoluted than scholars previously assumed.


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