Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Public Administration

First Committee Member

Christopher Stream

Number of Pages



Researchers have suggested that American counties are emerging as leaders in local governance. This is mainly attributed to the fact that counties are being called upon to provide a whole host of new services to an ever-growing suburban and an incorporated areas population. County administrators are known to play a critical role in the provision of these services, however, researchers know very little about the factors contributing to county administrator turnover. Several empirical analyses have explored tenure and turnover patterns of top-level government executives, yet these analyses have principally focused on local governments, e.g., municipalities; This paper is intended to extend existing research by examining how factors contributing to government performance, political uncertainty, and community instability affect appointed county administrator turnover in large American counties. This paper also attempts to determine whether an appointed administrator/managers' level of education, tenure, race and gender had statistically significant predictive or explanatory strength with regards to turnover; This study incorporates a mixed-methods strategy of analysis. The quantitative component employs a dual-model (2-stage) approach that allowed for additional comparative analysis. The qualitative component incorporates interviews with present and past appointed county administrators aimed at guiding in the selection of explanatory variables contained in the research models, and development of the specific research questions and related hypotheses; The quantitative study sample consists of data collected on the 32 largest U.S. counties with council-manager forms of government (based on 1990 U.S. Census data). The models were estimated using a pooled cross-sectional panel beginning with year 1992 and ending with year 2005. The unit of analysis was appointed county administrators within large American counties. The Cox proportional regression procedure, a form of duration analysis was employed to determine casual-effect; The findings of this research study suggest that certain political uncertainty, community instability, fiscal performance and select administrator profile factors influence appointed county administrator general turnover. The results of this study also suggest that certain political uncertainty, fiscal performance and community instability factors influence appointed county administrator push-induced departures, and certain fiscal performance, community instability and select administrator profile factors influence appointed county administrator pull-induced departures.


Administrators; American; Appointed; Conflict; Counties; County; County Administrators; Large; Political Uncertainty; Turnover

Controlled Subject

Public administration; Political science; Social sciences--Research

File Format


File Size

6676.48 KB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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