Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Gabris, Gerald T.||Banovetz, James M.

Degree Name

Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)

Legacy Department

Department of Political Science


City managers--Rating of--United States; Local government--United States--Officials and employees; Government executives--United States


The central focus of this study is an identification and exploration of current practices in city manager performance appraisal and the organizational contexts in which those practices exist, an area of study that has received little empirical analysis. The fundamental questions examined are: What are the frequency and methods of performance appraisal systems utilized by governing boards to assess city manager performance? Which, if any, performance appraisal processes associate with perceived performance system effectiveness/satisfaction? Last, do specific appraisal patterns associate with perceived organizational success? The study presents empirically grounded insights as to the methods and organizational contexts of performance appraisal techniques employed in Illinois cities in the evaluation of their appointed chief executives (city managers). A multipart mail-out questionnaire was the primary tool used for data collection. The questionnaire collected performance appraisal process data from three critical organizational sources: city managers, mayors, and department heads. The investigation goes beyond a cataloging of current appraisal practices by exploring relevant organizational attributes and perceptions of the process by key stakeholders, namely the manager, mayor, and key department managers. Appraisal practices and satisfaction were found to be linked with a variety of organizational attributes including the use of advanced management techniques, communication patterns, goal setting, governing board conflict, leadership credibility, and perceived organizational effectiveness. Taken as a whole, the correlation and regression analyses conducted on the research data imply a model of effective performance appraisal processes for city managers. The findings point to four key elements that an ideal or effective model of manager appraisal would encompass. Within these four key attributes, specific actions and behaviors are gleaned from the research and discussed. In view of the issues and findings identified in this work, treating city manager performance appraisal as either a taboo or annoyance is simply shortsighted and detrimental to the overall effectiveness of both the city manger and the municipal organization. The research identifies the importance placed on the need and desire for feedback among mayors, department heads, councils, and managers.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [251]-268).


[xvii], 317 pages




Northern Illinois University

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