public participation, accountability, special district governments
The American system of governance includes a network of state and local units identified as either general purpose or special purpose governments. The latter are often aligned with, but operate independently of, general purpose governments. Even as these special purpose or special district governments have shown extraordinary growth relative to their general purpose counterparts, there has been little interest in them or the structural characteristics that distinguish their systems for maintaining order and assuring accountable behaviors. In the meanwhile, the literature regarding accountability has been expanded materially in the last several years leading to debates about its form, component parts, objectives, and the preferred means for achieving accountability as an end state. While these concepts may have application to special districts, inquiry has yet to extend to the particular devices required to monitor or control these governments. This research effort closes the knowledge gap by linking this little studied form of government with recent ideas about accountability and the role that citizen participation plays in developing or advancing accountable behaviors. The analysis applies an adaptation of the well known model developed by Romzek and Dubnick (1987) to create an accountability framework and documents the role that public participation plays in influencing accountable behaviors. The analysis culminates in a multivariate model that examines the role of pubic participation in the context of competing influences that might also force accountable behaviors. The research concludes that participation can be an important influence in shaping specific forms of accountable behavior but that other factors are also essential to sustaining accountability. Most notable among these other factors is the role of the workplace environment, defined here in terns of employee interaction, ethics training, purpose, overall sense of commitment and other attributes.
Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
College of Health and Public Affairs
Length of Campus-only Access
Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)
Beitsch, Owen M., "Democratic Voices Speaking Loudly: Does Public Participation Yield Accountability In Special Purpose Governments?" (2005). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 430.