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Political Conflict in City Councils: Implications for Power and Leadership of Professional Managers

PAQ, Vol. 43 No. 2, (2019)

Conflict over policy issues among elected officials is often observed in local governments. However, the impact of this conflict on city managers’ power and leadership has been a relatively unexplored area of research. This empirical study presents a testable triangle of relationships between political conflict in policymaking boards of municipal governments, manager’s power, and manager’s leadership. We also offer manager’s power as a mediating variable to better understand the relationship between political conflict and manager’s leadership. Using a comprehensive dataset of survey responses from city managers in the United States local governments, we test our model and discuss the findings in light of the contemporary public administration literature. Our statistical results confirmed that power and leadership were correlated with each other. Managers with greater power are more likely to emerge as leaders. The findings have important implications for local government management.

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