Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Political Science

Major Professor

Patricia Freeland

Committee Members

David Houston, Ron Foresta, Bob Cunningham


For decades urban planners and political scientists have attempted to deal with the problems associated with urbanization. Rapid population growth and the fragmentation of our metropolitan areas have caused ongoing and ever-increasing problems such as air, water, and land pollution; high crime rates; disparities in quality of education; a persistent racial divide; and traffic congestion, to name only a few. One solution, regionalism, gained grand-scale political support in the mid-twentieth century only to decline in the 1980s with the Reagan administration. In the 20 years leading up to Reagan's policy of devolution, the national government was invested in fostering multi-jurisdictional relationships. These cooperative councils of governments were to develop comprehensive regional plans for future regional development while attempting to resolve existing urban issues through region-wide initiatives. However, with devolution, regional councils lost their authority and the federal revenue stream dried up; as a result, regional planning and cooperation fell out of favor.

Since the mid-1990s, there has been an enormous re-growth in regional partnerships and academic interest in regionalism. Today's voluntary partnerships find theoretical footing in the 'new regionalism,' a movement that has gained momentum with a number of state and local governments, federal agencies, and scholars. In spite of this support, regional efforts are, and have always been, difficult to establish and maintain for a variety of political and economic reasons. Regionalism in the 1970s occurred, for the most part, because of the federal government's infusion of funding and authority in the regional council (Atkins and Wilson-Gentry, 1992; Grigsby, 1996). With devolution, that funding and authority was revoked. So why are local governments cooperating on a regional level today? To answer that question, researchers have begun to explore existing regional councils in search of key determinants of their formation and ongoing participation. Suggested motives include a history of regional cooperation (Ostrom, 1998), and the pressure of an unmet need that cannot be resolved by council members acting independently (Olberding, 2002). To determine the extent to which the federal government is again playing a role, this research seeks to reintroduce the influence of federal funding to the list of key determinants.

Files over 3MB may be slow to open. For best results, right-click and select "save as..."