The committee on Public Administration of the Social Science Research Council undertook in 1937 a nation-wide study of the results and practical operation of the city manager plan of municipal government. A few cities had operated under the plan for a quarter of a century, many for more than twenty years, and there were then over 440 cities in the United States with this form of government. (There were 472 in December, 1939.) The time seemed ripe for a review of the significance, influence, and effect of the plan.
The authors of this volume spent periods ranging from a month to part of a week in each of eighteen carefully selected cities, not merely searching records and newspaper files, but observing the life of the community and government in action and interviewing hundreds of officials, past and present, community leaders of all shades of opinion, and citizens of all classes. They have written monographic reports on nine of the cities visited which give a realistic account and penetrating analysis of the plan in actual operation under varying local conditions. These nine case reports are published in a companion volume, City Manager Government in Nine Cities; they have also been issued as separate pamphlets.
In addition to the research by Mr. and Mrs. Stone and Mr. Price, thirty-two other cities were similarly studied by forty-eight professors and graduate students of political science throughout the country. Thirty of these studies were specifically undertaken to parallel those of the committee's staff and to furnish a broader base for possible generalizations. This voluntary pooling of the research efforts of many scholars to a common end has been most encouraging to the committee. It contributed a large fund of information which has been drawn upon freely in writing this book without in every instance making specific reference to the sources. The authors and the committee express their warm thanks to the collaborators, whose names appear at page xii. Seven of the case reports submitted by collaborators are published in a volume, City Manager Government in Seven Cities; these have also been issued as separate pamphlets. Others of the studies have been published under local sponsorship or have been the bases for a series of articles appearing in the National Municipal Review in 1938-40.
The present volume is intended to summarize the principal results of the city manager plan in forty-eight cities that are operating under . . .