Political conflict, fiscal stress, and administrative turnover in American cities

Document Type



There is growing recognition of the importance of executive tenure and turnover for the performance of organizations in both the private and public sector. Because turnover can affect service delivery and fiscal management, understanding the reasons why managers exit their positions has import for both practitioners and scholars. In this article, turnover of municipal administrators is examined as a function of political uncertainty, conflict with elected officials, fiscal conditions, and population growth. A random-effects logit analysis of data from a pooled cross-sectional panel of U.S. cities reveals that mayoral turnover is associated with turnover of administrators in mayor-council cities but not in council-manager cities. Growth in per capita personal income results in a decreased likelihood of turnover of city administrators in both mayor-council and council-manager cities. One important "non-finding" is that growth in property tax revenue apparently has no significant effect on the tenure of administrators-that is, increases in this unpopular tax do not seem to influence whether administrators stay in their positions or leave them.


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 Administration | Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration

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