Frictions in Polycentric Administration with Non-Congruent Borders: Evidence from Ohio School District Class Sizes
Forthcoming, Journal of Public Administration Research & Theory
44 Pages Posted: 6 Jan 2012 Last revised: 30 Dec 2012
Date Written: January 6, 2012
Public managers who operate within cross-jurisdictional governance regimes face substantial difficulties in facilitating network collaboration. Scholars have long suggested that non-congruence of geographic borders can create coordination problems among the political communities within polycentric administrative units. A frequently reoccurring example of such coordination problems arises in cases where municipalities and school districts have non-congruent borders, creating fiscal externalities in residential development land use decisions. Using GIS data from 611 Ohio school districts and 1,585 municipalities in 2000, we calculate the degree of non-congruence between school district and municipal territory to test for evidence that non-congruence of municipal-school district borders influences school district class size. The results indicate that schools with non-congruent borders do experience substantively larger class sizes. Furthermore, these effects seem to increase with the degree of non-congruence. Our findings are robust to model specification and consistent across OLS and treatment effects regression estimates. Policy implications for state-encouraged consolidation of school districts are discussed as well as theoretical and empirical implications of non-congruent jurisdictional borders for governance studies more generally.
Keywords: congruency, public education, polycentrism
JEL Classification: I21, I28, R12
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation