Institutions and representational roles in American State Legislatures

Christopher A. Cooper, Lilliard E. Richardson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


What is the impact of a legislature's institutions on the representational roles its members adopt? We address this question by examining the role orientation of state legislators in eight states, explaining why some legislators identify more with a trustee model of representation and others identify more with the delegate model. Using ordinal logistic regression analysis on data from a survey of 447 legislators, we test for the effects of multimember districts and term limits, along with several other factors. First, we find that representational roles and behavior are related; legislators who think of themselves as delegates are much more likely to hold frequent district office hours than their counterparts who think of themselves as trustees. Second, we find that, overall, legislators are more likely to consider themselves trustees than delegates. Third, we find that multimember districts and term limits increase the likelihood that legislators think of themselves as trustees. Thus, legislative institutions can influence the representational roles legislators adopt.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)174-194
Number of pages21
JournalState Politics and Policy Quarterly
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Political Science and International Relations


Dive into the research topics of 'Institutions and representational roles in American State Legislatures'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this