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In recent years, analysts have begun to study cooperation on public services among local governments. These studies have often concluded that services with scale economies are likely candidates for shared service delivery. This article contributes to the emerging literature on this topic by examining interlocal service arrangements for ten public works services in Michigan. Despite the fact that public works exhibit substantial scale economies, many local governments do not cooperate on these services. Empirical studies of local government contracting suggest four groups of factors that may help explain why local governments opt to collaborate on public services: local economic factors, characteristics of the communities in areas adjacent to the local government, demographic characteristics of the local government, and the influence of policy and planning networks. We use data on the service delivery arrangements from 468 general-purpose local governments in Michigan to examine the role played by the factors in explaining interlocal cooperation on public works.


Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration | Urban Studies and Planning


This article is forthcoming in Public Works Managment and Policy, Summer 2007.