Institutional Form and Political Leadership in American City Government

  • James H. Svara


The distinction between the mayor-council and council-manager forms of government for American cities is fundamental, yet until now not enough has been known about the impact of these two very different approaches to organising urban leadership. The alternative forms of local government used in the United States differ in structure and internal processes, and these differences provide the background to variations in political leadership. Both types of city government have an executive, either elected or appointed, and both have a mayor although they vary in the extent of their power. Finally, both types have a council but one is more like a European parliament in its scope of authority and the other more like an American legislature. This chapter examines the patterns of variation in political leadership with respect to their responsiveness to citizen preferences and their effectiveness in policymaking, as rated by council members and city managers themselves.


Political Leadership City Council American City City Government Council Member 
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Copyright information

© Rikke Berg and Nirmala Rao 2005

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  • James H. Svara

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