Date of Award

Fall 12-2023

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair

Hamett Q. Brown

Committee Chair School


Committee Member 2

Heather M. Annulis

Committee Member 2 School


Committee Member 3

Dale L. Lunsford

Committee Member 3 School


Committee Member 4

Casey M. Funderburk

Committee Member 4 School



A successful local government exemplifies inclusivity, innovation, and deliberate decision-making, all advancing responsible management of taxpayers' resources. In this qualitative investigation, a phenomenological approach is employed to delve into the lived experiences of local elected officials. The aim of this study was to gain insights into the capacity of these local elected officials for success in governance. Subsequently, the insights from these local elected officials' experiences are harnessed to evaluate their influence and impact on municipal performance.

The management of municipal performance encompasses the provision of social services, the maintenance of fiscal operations, and adherence to statutory obligations (Avellaneda, 2008). Existing literature predominantly addresses external factors affecting governmental performance, such as political, legal, natural disasters, and sociodemographic factors, which operate outside the confines of the municipality and are not controlled by local elected officials. However, this research centers on internal factors, which the literature suggests wields the most substantial influence on municipal performance and are controlled by the local elected official (Svara, 2003). As per the literature on local government performance, the most pivotal factor is the role played by "local elected officials" (Svara, 2003). More precisely, this study explored the human capital of local elected officials, encompassing their educational background, life experiences, and job-related history as it pertains to their capacity to govern effectively within the sphere of the local authority.

The study employed interpretative phenomenological analysis to assess and comprehend the real-life experiences of local elected officials regarding their effectiveness in governance. The findings indicate that education influences the capacity of local elected officials to govern effectively. Furthermore, this capacity directly affects the overall performance of municipalities. Consequently, it is recommended that federal and state legislators consider policies that enforce mandatory training and ongoing education for local elected officials.