Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Political Science

Major Professor

David J. Houston

Committee Members

Michael R. Fitzgerald, Patricia Freeland, Mary Catherine Hammon


City government in Tennessee at the highest levels consists of numerous Mayors, Councilmembers, Aldermen and Commissioners who are elected by the citizenry as the governing body of their communities. These elected officials, in almost every instance, have an administrator that is charged with conducting the affairs of the local government, providing oversight and efficient execution of these elected official’s goals. Since the formation of Tennessee communities, the elected body has planned and accomplished community building tasks. In the Progressive era of the 1910s, the development of professional local government managers began their arrival in Tennessee cities. Since that time, roles and responsibilities have been established by city charters, state laws and experience.Today’s modern communities are challenged by an ever changing environment which raises questions of whether elected officials and appointed city administrators and city managers are changing too. Limited academic study has occurred on small cities across the United States as impacted by their officials. The interaction between elected officials and their administrative managers play an integral part for the success and viability of their communities.Utilizing a detailed survey of Tennessee city managers and elected officials, this study identifies key findings of stability and change among the positions. The study identifies a strong reliance upon city manager, councilmembers and mayoral roles, skills and characteristics for creating success in Tennessee cities. The survey explores various statistically significant aspects of these official groups and organizes their work relationships with respect to the four dimensions of government of Mission, Policy, Administration and Management. The findings confirm that roles of these elected and appointed officials of smaller Tennessee cities do not vary from their responsibilities in most instances, neither do they encroach on the established roles of city managers, mayors and councilmembers.

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