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Understanding Shared Roles in Policy and Administration: An Empirical Study of Council-Manager Relations


Tansu Demir is assistant professor in the Department of Public Administration at the University of Texas at San Antonio. He received his doctorate in public administration from Florida Atlantic University. He previously taught at the University of Illinois at Springfi eld and the University of Central Florida. His research interests include public administration theory, bureaucratic politics, and public policy process. His research has been published in the Public Administration Review, Administration and Society, Administrative Theory and Praxis, Public Organization Review, and International Journal of Public Administration.

Christopher G. Reddick is associate professor and chair of the Department of Public Administration at the University of Texas at San Antonio. His research and teaching interests are in information technology and public sector organizations. Some of his publications can be found in Government Information Quarterly, Electronic Government, and the International Journal of Electronic Government Research. He recently edited the two-volume Handbook of Research on Strategies for Local E-Government Adoption and Implementation: Comparative Studies. He is also author of Homeland Security Preparedness and Information Systems, which deals with the impact of information technology on homeland security preparedness.


Recent literature in public administration emphasizes enhanced collaboration between elected and administrative officials. The complementarity view is presented as an alternative to the traditional politics–administration dichotomy. At the center of this new perspective lies the concept of shared roles between elected officials and public administrators with respect to policy making and administration. This article expands the emerging literature on role sharing by proposing and testing new variables to understand what enhances the policy-making role of city managers and the administrative role of elected officials. Employing data collected from a nationwide survey of city managers and utilizing structural equation modeling methodology, this research finds that the council’s expectations and the city manager’s role conception significantly influence the city manager’s involvement in policy making, while the context of policy making, the city manager’s support, and the council’s access to resources affect elected officials’ involvement in administration. This article aims to make a cumulative contribution to the literature on role sharing.