Date of Award


Degree Type



Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs

First Advisor

Keller, Lawrence

Subject Headings

County government -- United States, Metropolitan government -- United States, Summit County (Ohio) -- Politics and government, Allegheny County (Pa.) -- Politics and government, Cuyahoga County (Ohio) -- Politics and government, County Reform Home Rule Urban Regime Theory Governance


Reform is a concept that public administration has struggled to define since its inception. The corruption crisis in Cuyahoga County led the region to vote to implement a home-rule government, and replace the three commissioner system with a single county executive and an eleven-member county council under the guise of reform. In addition, Allegheny and Summit Counties each previously implemented similar executive-council elected reform governments for reasons akin to Cuyahoga. Reform efforts are often the product of crises in the government process, and open doors for researching the process of how power works, is implemented, co-opted and consolidated. These events afforded researchers opportunities for studying if merely structural reform took place or if a deeper reform occurred, and what were the elements that determined if structural or a deeper reform occurred. This Dissertation used Clarence Stone's Urban Regime Theory and Jon Pierre's Urban Governance Theory as frameworks in order to study how some elite actors viewed their reform efforts. The questions explored were the following: Was their region's reform was a change in structure only, as there were more unelected row positions and new positions but the operations, governance and leadership operated as in the past? Was their regions reform effort a deeper government reform, where there was more accountability, transparency, efficiency, sustainability, inclusion, checks-and balances and ethical behavior? Public Administration still struggles with defining reform, and this qualitative study looks at the perceptions held by those elite actors as to their views pertaining to what transpired in their region. The study looked at the perceptions of reform held by those who were interviewed through an interpretative lens. As this was an interpretive study, research questions were generated and analyzed with the understanding that there are limitations on drawing inference from the collected data. However, one can ascertain that there are factors th