Political management in Australian local government exploring roles and relationships between Mayors and CEOs

25 Sep 2012

This discussion paper explores the dimensions of models that define working relationships between council Mayors and members of local government.
The working relationship between the Mayor as the leader of the council and the chief executive officer (CEO) leading the council organisation is one of the most important relationships in local government. Mayors and CEOs recognise that the breakdown in this relationship can have long lasting, negative impacts on the capacity of a local government to deliver value for money services to its community.
Despite this, there is little research which illuminates this relationship, and certainly little that is based on the Australian local government scene. In this discussion paper we explore the dimensions of what is known through current research about this relationship and examine a number of models that define the relationship, and consider whether the relationship is influenced by structural issues such as the method of election of the Mayor at large or by the council itself.
We ask questions that focus on how much should the relationship between Mayors and CEOs be structured via rules and guidelines and how much should it rest on the integrity and common sense of the people involved? Drawing on research carried out by the authors and a consideration of the literature on the nature of this relationship, which occurs in one form or another at all levels of government, we draw conclusions and comment about how elected councillors and appointed staff can best assist individuals in these roles to establish a successful and effective working relationship.

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