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Tenure of City Managers: Examining the Dual Meanings of "Average Tenure"

David N. Ammons and Matthew J. Bosse
State & Local Government Review
Vol. 37, No. 1 (2005), pp. 61-71
Published by: Sage Publications, Inc.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4355387
Page Count: 11
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Tenure of City Managers: Examining the Dual Meanings of "Average Tenure"
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Abstract

Assertions regarding the typically brief tenure of city managers -i.e., the time from appointment until departure-generally are based either on anecdotes or on a statistic seemingly illsuited to that purpose. Rather than focusing on the length of service from beginning to end, the commonly used survey statistic reports the average length of service among local government managers in their current post so far. In this longitudinal study, the authors examine the completed service records of 364 managers serving 118 cities during 1980-2002. Average completed tenures are compared with cross-sectional tenure statistics reported for city managers. Despite a different basis of calculation and a different interpretation of tenure, the average completed tenure of city managers in this study was identical coincidentally to the cross-sectional, service-so-far number reported most recently by the International City/County Management Association: 6.9 years. The authors contend that the dual meanings of average tenure are distinct from one another, despite the coincidental equality in this study, and that assertions regarding one meaning of the term should not be supported using statistics drawn from the other.

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