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.

Working across Boundaries

Working across Boundaries

Cooperation is “an unnatural act among nonconsenting adults.”

—Beverly Cigler (2007, p. 3)

For many years scholars, public officials, civic groups, and reformers have debated the fragmented structure of local government and the blurred boundaries in relationships among local units as well as between localities and their state government. This chapter reviews the mismatch among structures, boundaries, and problems confronting localities. Practical approaches to regional collaboration and promising innovations that municipal and county managers can use to work across boundaries to address problems are examined, and the states’ role in local restructuring is explored.

Stressed Local Structure

As discussed in Chapter 3, there was a net decline of 26,700 local units, from 116,807 to 90,056 between 1952 and 2012. Meanwhile, the number of ...

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