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City council members and the representation funtion in intergovernmental decision making

Eric Zeemering, San Francisco State University



Local elected officials provide a representation function for their constituents, expressing citizen preferences for public goods and services and integrating public preferences into government decisions about how to provide and produce public goods and services. In an increasingly networked world, the provision and production of public goods and services frequently occurs through intergovernmental collaboration and inter-local agreements. Public administrators are often viewed as the primary actors in forming intergovernmental agreements, but what role do elected officials play in policy decisions about collaboration? I argue elected officials’ representation function in intergovernmental policymaking can be conceptualized through the analysis of three dimensions of a typological theory: stimuli for collaborative action, perceptions of the terms of collaboration, and perceptions of intergovernmental partners. Existing research and interviews with local elected officials are used to explain the dimensions of the intergovernmental collaboration decision typology. This paper offers a preliminary outline of my current research. Analysis of the data is ongoing, and feedback and comments are welcome.