University of Technology Sydney

15604 Local Government Principles and Practice

Warning: The information on this page is indicative. The subject outline for a particular session, location and mode of offering is the authoritative source of all information about the subject for that offering. Required texts, recommended texts and references in particular are likely to change. Students will be provided with a subject outline once they enrol in the subject.

Subject handbook information prior to 2023 is available in the Archives.

UTS: Design, Architecture and Building: Institute for Public Policy and Governance
Credit points: 6 cp
Result type: Grade and marks

There are course requisites for this subject. See access conditions.

Description

This subject is focused on explicating key concepts and theories of local government and helping students to understand how they might be applied in practice. At completion of this subject students are able to:

  • confidently discuss the main theories and concepts pertaining to local government
  • show how theories and concepts can be applied to improve local government practice
  • discuss the importance of theory for the development of efficacious public policy remedies to the problems facing local government.

Subject learning objectives (SLOs)

On successful completion of this subject, students should be able to:

1. Define and debate key theories relating to local government and the political and legislative framework within which local government operates.
2. Build, extend and illustrate their understanding of key theoretical concepts for local government and consequences of these for local governance, and for management and leadership practice.
3. Identify, examine and elaborate on current issues facing local government as a tier of government in Australia and in other jurisdictions.
4. Select, contrast and constructively apply concepts relating to local government, democracy, service delivery, governance, management and reform to their own practice.
5. Describe, develop and appraise capacity-building processes that would meet the needs of councils and their communities.

Course intended learning outcomes (CILOs)

This subject also contributes to the following Course Intended Learning Outcomes:

  • Address issues in local government and intergovernmental organisations with an attitude that is open, ethical and empathetic (A.1)
  • Synthesise and deliver well-informed, engaging and effective presentations in written, oral and digital formats for diverse audience types (C.2)
  • Develop critically informed and innovative approaches to understanding local government and intergovernmental issues in domestic and international contexts (I.1)
  • Demonstrate strategic thinking and prioritising about competing resources, multiple governance structures and drivers of change (P.2)
  • Apply an advanced understanding of theories and debates in local government and intergovernmental relations, including Indigenous perspectives, and articulate this understanding across a range of organisational types (P.3)
  • Consider, analyse and evaluate complex arguments and multiple interests within specific contexts, particularly as they pertain to local government and intergovernmental relations (R.1)
  • Conduct independent applied research to develop a deep understanding of complex policy problems and innovative, cross-disciplinary solutions pertaining to government and its stakeholders (R.3)

Contribution to the development of graduate attributes

The term CAPRI is used for the five Design, Architecture and Building faculty graduate attribute categories where:

C = communication and groupwork

A = attitudes and values

P = practical and professional

R = research and critique

I = innovation and creativity.

Course intended learning outcomes (CILOs) are linked to these categories using codes (e.g. C-1, A-3, P-4, etc.).

Teaching and learning strategies

This subject is run in ‘Distance’ mode through the UTS Canvas platform. 15604 in Canvas showcases the latest in learning technology and has been developed with IPPG staff and the Learning.Futures Team at UTS.

Distance mode nevertheless incorporates face-to-face discussion and a range of other teaching and learning strategies, including interactive presentations, discussion of readings and case studies, and peers working together in small group activities. The readings both presage and consolidate and challenge your understanding of the content presented and students are encouraged to utilise the discussion board available on Canvas where you and your peers can continue discussion each topic.

Content (topics)

Module 1: Foundations of Principles and Practice

  • Theories, hypotheses and practice
  • The value of theory to practice
  • Origins and purpose of government
  • History of local government in Australia

Module 2: Natural Law and Practice

  • Key concepts and origins of natural law
  • The common good
  • Subsidiarity
  • Principle of double effect
  • Practical reason
  • Natural law and practice

Module 3: Federalism

  • Reasons for federations
  • Fiscal federalism
  • The Decentralisation Theorem
  • Federal, state and local government relations
  • Federalism and practice

Module 4: Competition, Public Choice and Local Government

  • Tieboutian competition
  • Public Choice
  • Public Choice and practice

Module 5: New Public Management, Public Value and Discontents

  • NPM
  • Public Value
  • Critiques of NPM and PV
  • Natural law perspectives
  • NPM and PV in practice

Module 6: Comprehensive Theory of local government

  • The elements of a comprehensive theory
  • Local government theory in the literature
  • A comprehensive theory of local government
  • Comprehensive theory in practice

Module 7: Democracy and its alternatives

  • Critiques of democracy
  • Sortition
  • Citizen engagement
  • Democracy in practice

Module 8: Reform

  • Structural reform
  • Co-operation
  • Political reform
  • Legislative reform – new legislation + interpretation
  • Reform in practice

Module 9 Policy Success

  • Contemporary policy success frameworks
  • A theory of knowledge
  • A hybrid success framework
  • Policy success and practice

Assessment

Assessment task 1: Essay - Synthesis of Theory

Objective(s):

This task addresses the following subject learning objectives:

1, 2, 3, 4 and 5

This task also addresses the following course intended learning outcomes that are linked with a code to indicate one of the five CAPRI graduate attribute categories (e.g. C.1, A.3, P.4, etc.):

C.2, I.1, P.3, R.1 and R.3

Type: Essay
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 40%
Length:

maximum 3000 words.

Criteria:

Marking Criteria:

  • The student has demonstrated adherence to scholarly writing conventions including appropriate use of citations and references (10)
  • The student clearly identifies the two theories chosen. The theories are concisely summarised in a manner that highlights the critical elements to each (20)
  • The student compares and contrasts theories in a manner that demonstrates higher order understanding. Where appropriate complementarities are highlighted and expounded upon. (30)
  • The student demonstrates how the application of the specific theories might be expected to benefit local government practice. (20)

TOTAL/80 (contributing 40% of the overall mark for the subject)

Criteria linkages:
Criteria Weight (%) SLOs CILOs
Skill in identifying and analysing reference material from a wide range of sources, as demonstrated through using and acknowledging that literature via consistent and accurate in-text referencing and the compilation of an accurate reference list. 20 1 R.1
Skill in structuring complex information, arguments and ideas in written form, as demonstrated through the structure of the text and its readability 20 2 C.2
The studentís exploration of the topic expresses a foundation understanding of local government itself, including historical debates on the role and value of local government, its part in the overall system of government and its role and function within local communities. 20 3 R.3
There is a clear focus in the writing on suggesting how a considered and systematic application of principles and conceptual frameworks to local government practice can be of benefit to local communities. 20 4 P.3
The student questions, challenges and develops new perspectives on current local government practice by applying principles and conceptual frameworks from the literature that could enhance not only the understanding of local government, but also its improved functioning within local communities. 20 5 I.1
SLOs: subject learning objectives
CILOs: course intended learning outcomes

Assessment task 2: Essay 2

Objective(s):

This task addresses the following subject learning objectives:

1, 2, 3, 4 and 5

This task also addresses the following course intended learning outcomes that are linked with a code to indicate one of the five CAPRI graduate attribute categories (e.g. C.1, A.3, P.4, etc.):

A.1, I.1, P.3, R.1 and R.3

Type: Essay
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 40%
Criteria:

Marking Criteria:

  • The student has demonstrated adherence to scholarly writing conventions including appropriate use of citations and references. (10)
  • The student clearly explains the reform chosen by them and expounds on the theory and ideas that are used to justify the reform. (30)
  • The student identifies both problems and obstacles to implementing the reforms. Where appropriate the student refers to actual practice. (20)
  • The student demonstrates that they understand how to assess the success of the proposed reform and that they can establish suitable criteria for evaluating same. (20)

TOTAL/80 (contributing 40% of the overall mark for the subject)

Criteria linkages:
Criteria Weight (%) SLOs CILOs
The Professional Report provides evidence that student has focused on the self as a local public administrator when considering implications of the learning from the subject for her/his own work. In the Report, the student has provided an engaging description of the challenges and opportunities associated with their chosen topic in relation to their work unit, and how it affects their professional practice. 20 1 A.1
The studentís exploration of the topic is based on a sound understanding of local government itself, including historical debates on the role and value of local government, its part in the overall system of government and its role and function within local communities. The Report makes clear links between the ways principles are expressed in the literature, and how they manifest in the studentís own work unit and council. 20 2 P.3
With a focus on contemporary theories of governance and management, the student provides evidence of his/her work unitís performance by using information about his community and local area, as well as council or work unit plans, decisions, policies and activities. 20 3 R.1
Drawing on research evidence and debates in the literature and from the issues raised in the facilitated discussion with peers, the student applies relevant conceptual frameworks relating to the practice issues discussed in the Report 20 4 R.3
The student puts forward innovative, yet practical and realistic, ways through which she/he would build their own and their work unitís capacity to address the issues they have raised about its performance. 20 5 I.1
SLOs: subject learning objectives
CILOs: course intended learning outcomes

Assessment task 3: Multiple Choice Exam

Objective(s):

This task addresses the following subject learning objectives:

1, 3 and 4

This task also addresses the following course intended learning outcomes that are linked with a code to indicate one of the five CAPRI graduate attribute categories (e.g. C.1, A.3, P.4, etc.):

P.2, P.3 and R.3

Type: Quiz/test
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 20%
Criteria linkages:
Criteria Weight (%) SLOs CILOs
Student demonstrates a sound understanding of terms and definitions explored in the subject 30 3 P.3
The student demonstrates an advanced understanding of key theories and debates surrounding local government 30 4 P.2
The student uses logic and strategic thinking to select the most relevant theory 40 1 R.3
SLOs: subject learning objectives
CILOs: course intended learning outcomes

Minimum requirements

The DAB attendance policy requires students to attend no less than 80% of formal teaching sessions (lectures and tutorials) for each class they are enrolled in to remain eligible for assessment.

Students must meet attendance requirements and overall must obtain at least 50% of the total marks.

Required texts

As it is a foundation subject for local government studies at the University of Technology Sydney, it is essential that all students undertaking Local Government Principles and Practice 15604 come to grips with the academic literature. All readings are discussed in narrative form in a comprehensive ‘Subject Description and Guide to Readings’, which, as the key guide for self-directed study, is provided to students well in advance of the first scheduled face-to-face session. Readings for the modules of the subject are distinguished according to whether they are ‘core readings’ or ‘additional readings and references’. The core readings (around 36 texts) are made available to students online via Canvas. Students are expected to access the additional readings by making using of the UTS library facilities (especially online access for journal articles) themselves.

Core readings include:

Alford, J. and O’Flynn, J., 2009, Making sense of public value: Concepts, critiques and emergent meanings, International Journal of Public Administration, 32: 171-191.

Aulich, C., Sansom, G. and McKinlay, P., 2014, A fresh look at municipal consolidation in Australia, Local Government Studies, 40(1): 1-20.

Blackwell, B., Dollery, B. E. and Grant, B, 2015, Institutional vehicles for place-shaping in remote Australia, Place and Polity, 19(2): 150-169.

Dollery, B.E., Kortt, M and Grant, B., 2013, ‘Australia’s fiscal federalism’, in Dollery, B.E., Kortt, M and Grant, B. [eds.] Funding the Future: Financial Sustainability and Infrastructure Finance in Australian Local Government, Federation Press, Sydney, pp. 14-49.

Grant, B. and Drew, J. 2017. ‘Origins and development of local government systems in Australia: An overview’. In Grant, B. and Drew, J. Local Government in Australia: History, Theory and Public Policy, Springer, Singapore, pp. 15-82.

Grant, B. and Drew, J. 2017. ‘Local government and the Australian federation: Regionalisation, regionalism and the struggle for constitutional recognition’. In Grant, B. and Drew, J. Local Government in Australia: History, Theory and Public Policy, Springer, Singapore, pp. 83-122.

Grant, B. and Fisher, J., 2011, Public Value: Positive ethics for Australian local government, Journal of Economic and Social Policy, 14(2): Article 7.

Haus, M. and Sweeting, D., 2006, Local democracy and political leadership: Drawing a map, Political Studies, 54(2): 267-288.

Lamothe, S., Lamothe, M. and Feiock, R.C., 2008, Examining local government service delivery arrangements over time, Urban Affairs Review, 44(1): 27-56.

Michels, A. and de Graaf, L., 2010, Examining citizen participation: Local participatory policy making and democracy. Local Government Studies, 36(4): 477-491.

Orr, K. and Vince, R., 2009, Traditions of local government, Public Administration, 87 (3): 655-677.

Ryan, R., 2014, Innovative citizen involvement for creating public value in local government, Journal of African & Asian Local Government Studies, 3(1): 35-51.

Ryan, R., Hastings, C., Woods, R., Lawrie, A. and Grant, B., 2015, Why Local Government Matters, ACELG, University of Technology Sydney.

Ryan, R. and Woods, R., 2015, Decentralisation and Subsidiarity: Concepts and frameworks for emerging economies, Forum of Federations Occasional Paper 15. Forum of Federations, Ottawa.

Stoker, G. 1998, Governance as theory: Five propositions, International Social Science Journal, 50: 17-28.

Vogel, R.K., Ryan, R., Lawrie, A., Grant, B., Meng, X., Morris, A., Walsh, P. and Riedy, C. (2019). Global city Sydney. Progress in Planning (in print).