Explaining the tenure of local government managers

Document Type



Attempts to explain manager tenure based on conflict or ambition have systematically examined neither local government institutions that define the powers and contractual obligations of managers nor more macro political system structures. Analysis of tenure patterns for eighty-one local government managers confirms both the conflictual environment in which managers work and career characteristics influencing patterns of tenure. We add to this by demonstrating the importance of employment institutions in shaping a manager's choices and tenure. We find that the influence of push and pull factors is contingent upon the context of the employment relationship. The use of employment agreements influences tenure but in an intervening, rather than additive, manner. We conclude that the structure of employment institutions is important not only because it may structure personal incentives, but because it may also either insulate the manager from conflict in the community or propel him or her to the center of such conflict.


City managers; County government; County officials and employees; County services; Executives; Labor turnover; Leadership; Local government; United States


Public Administration | Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration


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