Turnover among city administrators: The role of political and economic change

Document Type



Executive turnover can have profound effects on city policies, programs, and commitments such as contracting or issuing debt. This article identifies how political changes, reflected in the composition of the city council, and economic changes in the community influence city manager turnover. Analysis of manager turnover patterns in 143 large U.S. cities with council-manager governments from 1987 to 1999 allows us to distinguish “push” and “pull” factors that can induce city managers to leave their jobs. The empirical analysis demonstrates that political conflict and economic development can influence the likelihood that a city manager will exit a community, but these effects can be complex. In particular, the influence of community economic development on turnover includes a temporal dimension not revealed in previous research. We conclude by discussing the findings’ implications for career patterns in city management.


City managers; County government; County officials and employees; County services; Labor turnover – Economic aspects; Leadership; Local government; Municipal government by city manager; United States


Public Affairs | Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration | Public Policy


Use Find in Your Library, contact the author, or use interlibrary loan to garner a copy of the article. Publisher copyright policy allows author to archive post-print (author’s final manuscript). When post-print is available or publisher policy changes, the article will be deposited

Search your library