Local Government Management and Performance: A Review of Evidence

R. M. Walker, R. Andrews
2013 Journal of public administration research and theory  
Local governments play a critical role in delivering services to the public. Over recent decades scholars have begun to empirically examine the relationship between the management and performance of local governments, locating this in economic, contingency, and resource-based theoretical frameworks. In this study, we undertake a comprehensive assessment of what is currently known about the management-performance hypothesis in local governments by integrating the empirical research that has been
more » ... earch that has been published over the past 40 years. We uncover 86 empirical articles that rigorously test the management-performance hypothesis and apply the support score review technique to the findings of these studies. Our analysis suggests that scholars have yet to explore all of the approaches to local government management with the same vigor. The majority of attention has been focused on the concepts of organization size, strategy content, planning, staff quality, personnel stability, representative bureaucracy, and networking. The evidence points toward strong positive performance effects resulting from staff quality, personnel stability, and planning, and moderate support for the benefits of networking, representative bureaucracy, and strategy content. Subanalyses reveal different relationships across dimensions of performance and organizational levels within local governments, and that the British and American scholars that have dominated these studies have largely drawn upon divergent theoretical perspectives. Directions for future research are also considered. Local governments are responsible for the management and delivery of key public services in countries worldwide. From picking up the garbage and cleaning the streets, to the provision of schooling and care for the elderly and vulnerable, these organizations invariably lead the development and implementation of innovative solutions to new and pressing social problems. Local governments, in addition to being at the forefront of delivering and providing the public services on which citizens rely, are often also the most public face of the state. The "street-level bureaucrats" who deliver local public services play a vital role in shaping what it means to be a citizen through their interactions with clients and service users (Vinzant and Crothers 1998). The management and performance of local governments is thus an issue of both timely and enduring importance to researchers, policy-makers, and citizens alike (see Sharpe 1970) .
doi:10.1093/jopart/mut038 fatcat:tqppup46wjgmlnvw3jnt5gv23m