Social Capital and Government Performance in American Urban Counties
Tennert, John R.
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Civil society and social capital have become staples of political science and public administration since the publication of Robert Putnam's landmark book Making Democracy Work in 1993 and his bestseller Bowling Alone in 2000. The research presented here explores the role of social capital and trust in enhancing institutional performance. Specifically, this dissertation analyzes the dynamics of social capital and government performance in metropolitan county governments. The dissertation also explores alternative theoretical approaches that have recently or historically been proposed as predictors or determinants of government performance in public administration and political science scholarship. The results reported here indicate that many of the dimensions of social capital are significantly correlated with government performance. The results suggest that counties with citizens that are more open to taking risks, that are more open-minded and less averse to change, that have faith in major political and economic institutions, that are more optimistic and that are more trusting of people they perceive to be like themselves, tend to have higher performing governments. The results also indicate that the relationship between the various dimensions of social capital and government performance is more nuanced than portrayed by a simple bi-variate correlation analysis, suggesting that the relationship between government performance and social capital is strongest at the margins, that is, among both the highest and lowest performing county governments.
- Doctoral Dissertations