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The introduction of mandatory inter-municipal cooperation in small municipalities: preliminary lessons from Italy

Giacomini, Davide; Sancino, Alessandro and Simonetto, Anna (2018). The introduction of mandatory inter-municipal cooperation in small municipalities: preliminary lessons from Italy. International Journal of Public Sector Management, 31(3) pp. 331–346.

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This article studies effects of mandatory inter-municipal cooperation (IMC) in small Italian municipalities. Data from 280 small Italian municipalities on effects of IMC in terms of higher efficiency, better effectiveness of local public services, and greater institutional legitimacy of the small municipalities participating in IMC have been investigated against four variables: size; geographical area; type of inter-municipal integration and IMC membership (the presence in the IMC of a bigger municipality, the so-called big brother).


Data were gathered from a mail survey that was sent to a random sample of 1,360 chief financial officers acting in municipalities of under 5,000 inhabitants, stratified by size (0–1,000 and 1,001–5,000) and geographic area (North, Center, and South) criteria. To analyze dependency relationships between the three potential effects of participating in IMC and possible explanatory variables, we used a logistic regression model as the benefits were binarily categorized (presence or absence of benefits).


Findings show that in more than two-thirds of the municipalities participating in IMC there were benefits in terms of costs reduction and better public services, whereas greater institutional legitimacy was detected in about half of the cases. Our statistical analysis with logistic regression highlighted that IMC type is particularly critical for explaining successful IMC. In particular, positive effects of IMC were mainly detected in those small municipalities that promoted a service delivery organization rather than participating in service delivery agreements or opting for mixed arrangements of joint public services delivery.


The paper focuses on small municipalities where studies are usually scant. Our analysis highlighted that the organizational setting is particularly critical for explaining successful IMC.

Item Type: Journal Item
ISSN: 0951-3558
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Business and Law (FBL) > Business > Department for Public Leadership and Social Enterprise
Faculty of Business and Law (FBL) > Business
Faculty of Business and Law (FBL)
Item ID: 51666
Depositing User: Alessandro Sancino
Date Deposited: 17 Oct 2017 10:39
Last Modified: 05 Aug 2019 00:25
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