Kurt Kunze

Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Wilson, James L.

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Political Science


Chicago Metropolitan Area (Ill.)


The basis theme of this study pertains to the position and use of cooperation in local intergovernmental relations. Cooperation in this sphere or any other sphere, for that matter, may be very ambiguous unless placed within certain guidelines. For the purpose of this paper, cooperation is discussed in formal and informal terns. Formal cooperation involves contractual, binding ties between local governments; informal cooperation may involve nothing more than verbal agreement to act in a mutual or collective fashion. It is the author’s thesis that cooperation may be the means by which local governments are able to survive in this complex world of profuse intergovernmental relations. Or, if cooperation is not utilized to any large degree, the author theorizes that local government may become a more useful component of the federal system through its use on an intergovernmental basis. Individually, local governments may share one another's facilities to provide better services within each jurisdiction, Collectively, local governments might cooperate to solve the larger problems that transcend individual boundaries. In order to place the study within a manageable scope, the author limited his study to municipalities, special districts and intercommunity councils in the Chicago Standard Metropolitan Statistical Area. After initial research into the area's background, the author mailed questionnaires to officials of selected local governments in each of these groupings. Basically, these officials were asked to relate in what ways they cooperated or promoted cooperation with other local jurisdictions. The survey did not completely support the author's thesis nor did it completely negate the contentions set forth above. When and where cooperation does exist, it has been beneficial in providing more effective and productive responses to governmental problems. However, more often than not, the survey revealed, parochial interests come before any thoughts of cooperation. Numerous reasons were given for these provincial perspectives. Chief among these reasons was the State of Illinois’ abdication of its responsibility to provide the adequate guidance or the tools by which local governments could help themselves. Cooperation was found to be practiced more on an informal level then in the formal sense. It appears that government officials cooperate more when the need arises than on any systematic, long-term basis. To this end, cooperation is utilized more in a "crisis" approach to government problems. The limited perspectives of the local officials coupled with State laxity and adherence to the crisis approach do not lend cooperation well as an instrument for solving broader-based metropolitan problems either. The author found that the most significant type of cooperation on the larger scene more likely to exist on a submetropolitan basis. In the final analysis, this scale of cooperation may actually be more practical because the economies of seals that some services operate on seem to dictate something less than a metropolitan-wide operation. In conclusion, the author recommends that cooperation may be made a more useful tool, as well as a more attractive one, to local governments if the State is willing to take active role in the area of local government. Through the liberalization of some laws and through the tightening of others, the State may inhance the role of cooperation in interlocal government relations. This activity may, in turn, provide the means for rejuvenating local government so that it may be a viable component of the federal system.


Includes bibliographical references.


116 pages




Northern Illinois University

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