Date of Conferral

2015

Degree

Ph.D.

School

Management

Advisor

David Banner

Abstract

Municipal leaders in the United States face difficult decisions when prioritizing nonmandated civic projects for funding, especially when operating budgets are restricted. This phenomenological study investigated municipal leaders' decision-making processes in a state in the southern United States, using a conceptual framework based on rational choice theory, bounded rationality, and group decision-making theory. It specifically explored personal and organizational decision-making processes related to the prioritization and funding of nonmandated civic projects via in-depth interviews with a convenience sample of 15 municipal leaders. Thematic analysis identified expert opinions, the time and cost to complete a project, the perceived value relative to expense, and the availability of additional funding sources as themes important to understanding participants' decision-making processes. Organizational factors that were important in these decisions included the need for clearly defined responsibilities and consistency in funding decisions. No clearly defined organizational processes were in place in any of the participants' municipalities, and the participants noted that areas such as infrastructure improvements, traffic congestion, community involvement, and formal processes in their municipalities were in need of improvement. Positive social change can flow from greater governmental transparency through municipal decision makers' adoption of systematic decision-making systems and processes. Positive social change can also result from greater inclusiveness through increased public outreach efforts. Results add to the research base by contributing to a better theoretical understanding of organizational decision-making processes in the municipal context.