The Forgotten Governments: County Commissioners as Policy Makers

By Vincent L. Marando; Robert D. Thomas | Go to book overview

Foreword

The Forgotten Governments: County Commissioners as Policy Makers is a significant contribution to literature on county government. The authors break new ground in the study of counties by adopting a public policy framework for an assessment of county commissioners' performances. Grounding their analysis in the cogent assumption that public policy is the raw material with which government deals, they adhere to this perspective throughout the study.

The approach taken is fundamentally empirical. They rely upon data recording the perceptions of 253 county commissioners in Florida and Georgia with respect to the problems facing their counties and their attitudes about the responses counties should make in solving the problems. Drawing primarily upon the results of a questionnaire survey, the authors are careful to indicate where their analysis departs from their data for the purposes of conjecture and hypothesis. Although their assessment pertains directly to counties in Florida and Georgia, the approach and the discussion apply to counties in general; counties in other states are employed as bases for comparison wherever appropriate.

In their approach, the authors have contributed two important analytical tools to methodology in this area of study. For examining the policies that counties have pursued, they have developed a framework that consists of three major variables: amount of urbanization, degree of federal impact, and state in which the county is located. The authors argue that these three variables determine to a large extent how commissioners identify and respond to problems. They

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