Date of Completion


Document Type

Open Access Capstone

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

First Advisor

Michael J. Ward


Throughout Massachusetts towns and cities there are various organizational and chief executive structures that dictate levels of authority and leadership opportunities. Drawing mostly from the literature on city forms of government, this research explores the authority-level variations among town administrators and town managers in Massachusetts and examines how authority levels relate to leadership opportunities. A mixed methods approach is used via a survey instrument to the 215 Massachusetts town administrators and town managers, 7 in-depth interviews, and secondary data review. Levels of chief executive authority and leadership were found to vary widely among the 94 survey respondents. While quantitative results show a weak, positive relationship between authority and leadership, qualitative results show a stronger connection between the two variables. Overall, results indicate that if day-to-day management and leadership are important goals for Massachusetts towns, increased levels of chief executive authority will provide the structural context for enhanced leadership and better local governance. This research has the potential to contribute to existing knowledge by filling gaps in the literature where there is sparse information on chief executives in town forms of government. Second, the research may contribute new knowledge on the relationship between chief executive authority and leadership in local government.