Managing Local Government: An Essential Guide for Municipal and County Managers offers a practical introduction to the changing structure, forms, and functions of local governments. Taking a metropolitan management perspective, authors Kimberly Nelson and Carl W. Stenberg explain U.S. local government within historical context and provide strategies for effective local government management and problem solving. Real-life scenarios and contemporary issues illustrate the organization and networks of local governments; the roles, responsibilities, and relationships of city and county managers; and the dynamics of the intergovernmental system. Case studies and discussion questions in each chapter encourage critical analysis of the challenges of collaborative governance. Unlike other books on the market, this text’s combined approach of theory and practice encourages students to enter municipal and county management careers and equips them with tools to be successful from day one.

The Manager’s Toolbox

The Manager’s Toolbox

Public management is “a world of settled institutions designed to allow imperfect people to use flawed procedures to cope with insoluble problems.”

—James Q. Wilson (1989, p. 375)

Managers are responsible for developing and sustaining a high-performing organization. There are many tools that managers have in their toolbox to help them achieve this goal. Some of these tools have been adopted from the private sector, others from local governments, and still others from state and federal agencies. This chapter focuses on the tools that are essential for managing contemporary local governments—strategic planning, performance measurement, program evaluation, budgeting for results, and succession planning—and provides examples of lessons learned from experience.

Building Organizational Capacity

As discussed in Chapter 7, managers work with elected officials as ...

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