“To Govern Well is to Govern for All”: Analyzing Manager Behavior in Partisan and Nonpartisan Local Governments

  •  Michael R. Potter    
  •  Robert Eskridge    
  •  Kathy Webb Farley    


This study examines the behaviors and attitudes of managers in nonpartisan and partisan local systems. It examines relevant literature relating to public service motivation, nonpartisan elections impact on managerial culture, and nonpartisan governance. This study includes a survey of managers in North Carolina in municipalities of 5,000 or more. With an n of 173 we captured respondents’ attitudes, perceptions, motivations, and values as well as demographic characteristics. Our findings suggest that there are significant differences in public administration training, public service motivation, understanding of council’s responsibilities, and questioning of work-life balance between managers in nonpartisan and partisan systems. Supporting these findings, in our interviews, managers touched on two major areas where a partisan and non-partisan context likely influenced operations. These were most evident in areas of differing government function and manager selection.

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