Publication type: Conference paper
Type of review: Peer review (publication)
Title: Amalgamation and inter-municipal cooperation: alternative or consecutive re-form strategies? : an analysis based on an empirical longitudinal study of Swiss local governments
Authors : Steiner, Reto
Kaiser, Claire
et. al : No
Conference details: ECPR General Conference, Hamburg, Germany, 22-25 August 2018
Issue Date: 2018
Language : English
Subject (DDC) : 350: Public administration
Abstract: Local government reforms have entered the reform agenda in many European countries since the 1950s, among them territorial reforms which are often directed to increase effectiveness, efficiency, and capacities (see, for example, Kersting & Vetter 2003). We may distinguish between ‘up-scaling’ strategies, that is amalgamation reforms, and ‘trans-scaling’ strategies, that is strategic thrusts pursuing inter-municipal cooperation (IMC) arrangements (Baldersheim/Rose 2010; Kuhlmann/Wollmann 2016). In current local government literature, research on the relationship between different local government reform strategies, in this case between cooperation and mergers, is rather scarce. Part of the literature suggests that cooperation might be a first step to amalgamation (Henkel 1992; Porter & Fuller 1989), while others suggest that IMC may be an alterna-tive to merger (see Teles/Swianiewicz 2018). This paper raises the question whether IMC is a stable and lasting form of organizing task fulfilment and can therefore be seen as an alternative to amalgamations or whether coop-eration between municipalities is rather a first step before merger. Particularly, the fol-lowing questions are addressed: Are municipalities which cooperate intensively with oth-er local governments and in networks more merger-orientated than municipalities with little cooperation? Have merged municipalities cooperated above-average before merger? If not IMC, what are other possible predictors for amalgamation? The empirical analysis is based on the example of Swiss local governments. In Switzerland, municipalities have only started to merge (voluntarily) in the 1990ies, whereas IMC has had a long tradition. From an international perspective, the Swiss municipalities are very small and they are highly reliant on cooperation with other local authorities to fulfil their tasks appropriately. The Swiss municipalities are a useful case for this study because mergers as well as IMC are important reform strategies, and local governments, as a rule, chose themselves what reform strategy they want to follow, instead of being forced by higher-ranking state levels. So, we are able to observe both these local government re-form strategies and the relationship between them in the Swiss municipalities. The underlying data for this paper come from a longitudinal survey which was conducted in all municipalities in Switzerland in 1998, 2009 and 2017 and achieved high response rates of 84.5%, 57.7%, and 82.3% respectively. The preliminary results of a structural equation model suggest that IMC and amalgama-tion are independent reform strategies rather than a logical consequence of one another. To predict the degree of merger activity in a municipality, financial incentives for mergers in a canton rather than IMC form the most important influence factor. The empirical results of the Swiss case will be embedded into a European Context.
Fulltext version : Submitted version
License (according to publishing contract) : Licence according to publishing contract
Departement: School of Management and Law
Organisational Unit: Institute of Public Management (IVM)
Appears in Collections:Publikationen School of Management and Law

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