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ERIC Number: ED354132
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1992-May
Pages: 11
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
Size, Function, and Structure: Jurisdictional Size Effects on Public Sector Performance.
Oakerson, Ronald J.
Jurisdictional consolidation of local governments and school districts is a controversial and persistent subject for rural communities. Consolidation proposals are usually based on the assumption that larger jurisdictions are necessary to capture economies of scale. This paper argues that the effect of size depends on the function that a jurisdiction performs and the multi-organizational structure in which a jurisdiction is embedded. Local governments perform two types of basic functions, i.e., provision (articulating needs) and production (transforming resources into goods and services). Studies of police departments (a production function) found that department size was positively related to per capita spending but negatively related to residents' perceptions of police effectiveness and attitudes. Although increasing school district size increases certain inputs to the production of education, research does not show that larger size leads to higher output (student achievement). Smaller school districts may have access to resources (such as greater "social capital") that compensate for lower-level inputs. The production and provision of services in rural areas may be limited, not by smaller jurisdictional size, but by a smaller local public economy, which yields less complexity in organizational structure and less flexibility for operating at diverse scales. In these circumstances, consolidation offers no solution to rural problems. Consolidation cannot create population scale (a function of density) where it is absent, and may, by mixing together different communities of interest, diminish valuable social capital. (SV)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Information Analyses
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A