Local Government Management and Performance: A Review of Evidence

Source: Richard M. Walker and Rhys Andrews, Journal of Public Admin. Research and Theory, Volume 25, Issue 1, January 2015
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From the abstract:
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 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.