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Comparing School Board Governing Dynamics in Small Rural and Suburban Districts

Author: MICHAEL R. FORD and DOUGLAS M. IHRKE
Published in PAQ, Vol. 44 No. 1

In this paper we use the case of U.S. school boards to compare small group governing dynamics across suburban and rural school boards serving fewer than 1,000 students. Using a national dataset, we find that rural school board members are less diverse, perceive higher levels of interpersonal conflict, and higher levels of interest group influence compared to their suburban colleagues. The results reveal the need to consider contextual factors such as urbanity when researching small group governing dynamics on public boards, and the importance of place-based policy making. The results are relevant to scholars of small group dynamics, municipal governance, and school boards.
Keywords: Small Cities, School Boards, Governance

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