Performance of the hollow state: local responses to the devolution of affordable housing

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Koerner, Mona

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The ways in which governments are being organized and managed is changing. To an increasing extent public policies and programs are being administered through complicated webs of multifaceted entities which include public authorities, special districts, government "instrumentalities", government sponsored enterprises, nonprofit organizations, and private for-profit corporations. This dissertation examines how local general purpose governments attempt to govern in this new environment referred to as the "hollow state." At the same time there has been a trend toward adopting managerial reforms as a means for improving government performance. Yet the hollow state environment is expected to make public management more complicated due to the numerous and varied relationships that it requires. The purpose of the study is to explain the relationship between decision-making and performance in the hollow state. Specifically, the study examines how local public managers attempt to manage the production of affordable housing which is undertaken by entities largely outside the governmental hierarchy utilizing resources provided by the HOME Investment Partnerships Program, a federal block grant for housing. The study first examines the efficiency in affordable housing production utilizing three different techniques: standard regression analysis, Substantively Weighted Least Squares (SWAT) and Data Envelopment Analysis. The multitechnique approach is useful in that the techniques emphasize different aspects and together provide a more thorough picture of government efficiency. The study also involves a detailed comparative analysis of six mid-sized cities. The findings reveal that despite differences in managerial philosophy managers in each of the six cities employ similar management mechanisms which are largely influenced by national level institutions. Further, performance is largely influenced by strategy adoption which differs according to the organization of governmental entities. Thus, while managerial reforms as a means for improving performance may be necessary, they are not sufficient without institutional change. A number of tools exist for managing in the hollow state but without institutional change, local managers are constrained from employing many of these mechanisms.