Analyzing local government financial performance: evidence from Brazilian municipalities 2005-2008

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Ricardo Correa Gomes
Solange Alfinito
Pedro Henrique Melo Albuquerque


Municipality size has become an issue since the New Public Management doctrine of disaggregating structures into manageable units. In some countries, this doctrine led to the creation of small-scale agencies relying heavily upon transfers from upper-level governments. This paper aims to contribute to performance management literature by providing empirical evidence about some determinant factors that are likely to endow local governments with superior financial performance. Data came from a sample of Brazilian municipalities and refers to the period 2005-2008. The main conclusion of this investigation is that larger cities are more likely to manage revenue and expenditure better than are smaller cities, which aligns with the discussion of amalgamation versus fragmentation. This conclusion stems from the findings that in small municipalities mayors have fewer conditions to improve financial performance due to the difficulty of raising and collecting taxes and of reducing expenditures, which makes their administrations far more dependent upon external sources of money. Therefore, this dependent relationship can be seen as the cause of poor financial performance to the extent that it lowers mayoral discretion when making decisions. Another contribution this paper proposes to theory and practice relates to the fact that in the strong-mayor form of local government, mayoral qualification is likely to have little effect upon performance.


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Gomes, R. C., Alfinito, S., & Albuquerque, P. H. M. (1). Analyzing local government financial performance: evidence from Brazilian municipalities 2005-2008. Journal of Contemporary Administration, 17(6), 704-719.