Date of Award

Spring 1994

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Urban Services - Urban Management

Committee Director

Leonard Ruchelman

Committee Member

George Julnes

Committee Member

Maurice Berube

Committee Member

William H. Wallace


The present study seeks to determine the extent to which formalist ideas in public administration are evident in the practice of managerial performance as perceived by city managers and assistant city managers in the three states of Arizona, Colorado, and Virginia. While numerous studies demonstrate how administrative practices vary in different socio-political environments, the International City Management Association contends that certain basic features of public management nevertheless should be widely applied in different settings.

The questions that are being posed in this study are: What are the perceived norms or standards that structure managerial performance of city managers and do they transcend state and regional boundaries? To what extent is perceived managerial performance based on the application of formal principles of public administration and the professional expectations of the city management profession?

The basic approach has been to compare city managers responses to survey questions related to basic areas of formalist doctrine having to do with concepts of political neutrality, professional development, competence, and the importance of the organizational structure.

Overall, this study indicates that general principles of public administration and professionalism are critical in establishing the organizational framework of how city managers and assistant city managers perform their duties. This study would seem to reinforce the literature on the importance of professional culture in setting expectations of professional performance. We can speculate that the early teachings of Richard Childs, the founder of the city management movement, at least partly accounts for this. His ideas of professional, nonpartisan competence appear to have been deeply absorbed into the profession of city management.