What Makes Municipal Councils Effective? An Empirical Analysis of How Council Members Perceive Their Group Interactions and Processes

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State and Local Government Review




Although local government scholars acknowledge the centrality of the municipal council to overall government performance, the literature provides limited guidance regarding how those councils can improve their effectiveness. Councils that display recurrent patterns of dysfunctional behavior are more likely to be ineffective in their core functions. Although there is research that identifies dysfunctional council behavior and its potential consequences for government performance, there is limited investigation into what aspects of member behavior are related to the functionality of the council itself. This study uses surveys of council members to identify which aspects of council behavior (interpersonal relations, leadership, staff competence, and conflict) have the greatest effect on perceptions of council effectiveness. The findings indicate that both interpersonal relationships between members of council and the mayor’s leadership ability are significantly related to perceptions of council effectiveness.