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Characteristics of Service, Structure of Networks, and Forms of Inter-Local Cooperation in Local Service Production: Evidence from Florida

Manoj Shrestha, Florida State University


This paper was presented at the Creating Collaborative Communities Conference held at Wayne State University, Detroit, MI, October 31-November 1, 2005.


This paper empirically examines the interrelationships between service characteristics and the structure of networks among local jurisdictions using relational data across a set of diverse services from Pinellas County in Florida. In metropolitan areas, cities as well as counties work together to become increasingly efficient in public service delivery, and hence, engage into a variety of cooperative arrangements such as bilateral or multilateral service agreements. Increasing restraints on jurisdictions’ fiscal capacity have further forced them to look for cooperative avenues. Extant literature suggests that types of public goods and services determine the choice of service production. Policy/management network scholars argue that different public goods and services lead to different collective action problems which, in turn, result different network structures among actors. What is missing is that why certain public goods and services lead to certain network structure of service production. This paper pulls together institutional collective action, contracting, and policy/management network literature and argues that the attributes of services – asset specificity and metering difficulty - create different collective action problems that jurisdictions attempt to solve which then result different network structures leading to different forms of inter-local cooperation.