Date of Award

Winter 2002

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Urban Studies

Committee Director

Roger Richman

Committee Member

Pamela A. Gibson

Committee Member

Christopher B. Colburn


This dissertation is designed to examine the impact of the complementarity of politics and administration on local governments' fiscal performance. The study adopts Svara's Politics-Administration Complementarity Model, which explains the mutual interdependence and reciprocal influence of administrative relationships between the elected and appointed officials of local governments towards a General Management City (a traditional mayor-council city that appoints a professional city manager to conduct the city's administration without formally adopting the council-manager form).

By adopting the politics-administration complementarity model to a general management municipal administrative structure, this thesis hypothesizes that cities with general management administrative structures achieve measurable fiscal performance of a higher order compared to cities without professional management (as in traditional strong mayor cities), or cities with a clear separation of powers (as in the council-manager forms of government).

This study employs a cross-sectional research design on the 1997 Census of Government's data of 1,166 cities that had populations of 25,000 or more. This analysis employs four most commonly used dependent variables of municipal fiscal performance: namely the composite fiscal stress index, revenue capacity per capita, per capita general expenditures, and FTE employee rate. An ordinary least square regression model is used to isolate the impact of the municipal management structure on dependent variables while controlling for the exogenous effects of identified socioeconomic and fiscal condition variables.

Results of this study support the hypothesis that the general management cities have better fiscal performance levels, as evidenced by lower revenue capacity per capita, per capita general expenditures and the FTE employee rates than the strong mayor cities. However, the composite fiscal stress index was lower in the strong mayor cities when compared with the general management cities. Thus, three out of four research hypotheses were not rejected based on the results of regression analyses.

Exploratory analyses of the general management cities show that they have great fluctuations in population growth. The cities that have recently adopted general management structure struggle financially. Though the findings did not support claims based on Svara's politics-administration complementarity model, still this study contributes substantially to the theory and practice of public administration, especially municipal government administration.