New Book Sheds Light on Rural Governance

Learn more about a new book that provides some overdue attention to public governance and administration in small towns and rural communities.

2 minute read

October 4, 2023, 9:00 AM PDT

By Clement Lau


Aerial view of Broadway Street of Philipsburg, Montana, Philipsburg is a town in and the county seat of Granite County, Montana, United States.

Mihai_Andritoiu / Philipsburg, Montana

Local Government Administration in Small Town America is a new book that devotes some overdue scholarly attention to the governance and administration of public programs in small towns and rural communities in the U.S. Edited By James C. Clinger, Donna M. Handley, and Wendy L. Eaton, this volume analyzes some of the unique challenges rural communities face, as well as the policy tools that their governments employ to address them. The book explores ways that small town governments collaborate with one another, the state, and the federal government, and examines how local government officials use knowledge of people and place to improve policy performance. The book consists of the following 21 chapters:

  1. The Network of Interests, Institutions, and Individual Interactions in Small Town Governance
  2. The Origin and Persistence of American County Boundaries: Courthouse Competition and the Road to Reapportionment
  3. Placemaking as an Economic Development Strategy for Rural Governments
  4. The Mechanics of Democracy: The Critical Role of Local Governments in Supporting Election Operations
  5. Public Budgeting in Small Local Governments
  6. Using Financial Statements to Improve Fiscal Strength and Make Policy Decisions
  7. Small Town Revenues for Big Time Public Services
  8. Rural Communities and Access to Health Care
  9. Rural Parks and Recreation: Understanding and Meeting the Needs
  10. Human Resources: Recruitment and Retention in Small Cities and Towns
  11. Gateway Towns: Loving our Rural Communities to Death
  12. Nonprofit Organizations and Arts Education in a Rural Community
  13. Guthrie KY and Civic Engagement: How Small Groups of People Make a Difference
  14. The Where of Small-Town Governance: Charting the Path from Technocracy to Democracy
  15. Broadband Availability and Adoption in Rural America
  16. Public Safety in Rural and Small Town America
  17. Challenges in Rural Emergency Management
  18. Enhancing Rural Capacity and Public Service Values through Intergovernmental and Intersectoral Collaboration
  19. Solution or Trouble? Privatization and Rural Governments
  20. The Role of Federalism in the Attainment of Collaborative Sustainability Outcomes in Small Communities
  21. Interlocal Economic Development Collaboration in Rural America: A Case of West Texas  

These chapters offer case studies and strategies for students and practitioners in public administration to use in a small town context, while also considering a community’s distinctive social and political culture, which determines how local political leaders and government practitioners might respond to demands and challenges they face.

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