The interplay between the technological, economic and socio-institutional spheres has wrought three significant changes for government in contemporary society; globalisation, neoliberal economic ideology, and new public management (NPM). Rather than ad hoc events, Long Wave Theory particularly Perez's (1988; 2002) techno-economic paradigm demonstrates that such changes are part of a centuries-old pattern of interaction and accommodation in capitalist societies. Contrary to claims that this sequence of events will diminish government she predicted that it would reinvent itself into a more participatory institution. Weiss' (1998: 209) theory on the "transformative capacity" of government and concepts of partnerships and governance seem to bear this out, and render partnerships the modern tool of transformation.
Using three rural Ontario communities as case studies, a larger body of secondary data, and a post-positivist research paradigm, this thesis looks at change and transformative capacity at the rural municipal level in Ontario. It examines how the above changes challenged rural municipal viability and community sustainability, and how its own responses have transformed its roles, the nature of rural governing and economic development process and practice, and warrant a revision of traditional conceptions of Canadian Municipal government, community and rural development theory and practice.