Academic journal article Public Administration Research

Understanding CEO Role Perception and Time Usage: Are New Municipal Typologies Useful?

Academic journal article Public Administration Research

Understanding CEO Role Perception and Time Usage: Are New Municipal Typologies Useful?

Article excerpt

Abstract

In recent years local government scholars have sought to more explicitly describe the diverse structures that exist within municipalities by developing typologies that extend beyond the traditional mayor-council versus council-manager form definitions. This research explores the value of these new typologies in helping scholars explain differences among chief executive officers (mayors and city managers) in municipalities. Using information obtained from a national random survey of municipalities, this study evaluates two of the most developed new typologies along with the traditional mayor-council versus council-manager classification in terms of how officials allocate their work time and how municipal mayors and city managers perceive both their own and their city councils role in the council/executive relationship. Using the percentage of work time allocated to the "Policy", "Politics", and "Management" activities as describe by Ammons and Newell in their 1987 Public Administration Review study (Role Emphases of City Managers and Other Municipal Executives) and the role perceptions of mayors and city managers using the four role dimensions of "Mission", "Policy", "Administration", and "Management" described in the Dichotomy/Duality model developed by James Svara in his 1985 Public Administration Review article "Dichotomy and Duality: Reconceptualizing the Relationship Between Policy and Administration in Council-Manager Cities", the differences between and among chief executive officers (CEO) are exaimined. We find that differences do exist between mayor and city manager CEOs and that by using new typologies, differences within mayors in mayor-council cities exist but do not exist among city managers in council-manager cities.

Keywords: executive behavior, council relations, municipal typologies

1. Introduction

One of the unique features of municipal government in the United States is the variety of institutional structures that can be found from one location to the next. Although the International City / County Management Association (ICMA) recognizes the five most common forms of local government (including the mayor-council, council-manager, commission, town-meeting, and representative-town-meeting forms), most research on local government structure in the U.S. focuses on the two structural forms that dominate the American municipal landscape, namely the mayor-council (34% of municipalities) and council-manager (55% of municipalities) forms (DeSantis & Renner, 2002; MacManus & Bullock 2003; Moulder, 2008). Scholars often use this dichotomous classification system to analyze the effects of form of government on a number of variables including characteristic differences between mayors and city managers (Nolting, 1969; Stillman, 1974; Wikstrom, 1990; DeSantis and Newell, 1996); time allocation (Wright, 1969; Ammons & Newell, 1989; Newell & Ammons, 1987); and the influence of demographic and socio-demographic variables on form of government (Sherbenou, 1961; Kessel, 1962; Dye & MacManus, 1976; Sanders, 1979; Giles, Gabris, & Krane, 1980; Farnham, 1986).

Recent research has suggested that this traditional mayor-council (unreformed government) or council-manager (reformed government) classification scheme does not fully capture the variations in government form that have evolved over the past decades (DeSantis & Renner, 2002). Changes including an increased use of appointed chief administrative officers (CAOs) in mayor-council form cities, the direct election of mayors and an increased use of ward or district elections for city council members in council-manager municipalities have all been observed in recent years (Adrian, 1988; Moulder, 2008; MacManus & Bullock, 2003; Ebdon & Brucato, 2000; Frederickson, Logan, & Wood, 2003). Scholars have proposed new ways of classifying municipalities based on different institutional characteristics found in municipalities. …

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