Professionalism among Icelandic Mayors: Job Postings, Experience and Education as Determinants of Professionalism at the Icelandic Local Level

Eva Marín Hlynsdóttir

Abstract


Professionalism is thought to be synonymous with good governance, a vital component of a modern and efficient local government. Traditionally, top managers, such as American city managers, are seen as the archetype of professionalism, while municipalities ruled by executive mayors have been judged to be less professional. In Iceland, mayors are recruited largely through two processes: through hiring following nationwide job postings (managermayors) and through political appointment from within the municipal council (political mayors). An analysis of job postings for manager-mayor positions and of the level of education and experience acquired by Icelandic mayors demonstrates an increased level of professionalism. However, during interviews, manager-mayors recruited through job postings emphasised their professionalism by citing their political neutrality, while political mayors stressed their professionalism by citing their level of education. Nevertheless, there is a fundamental lack of standardisation in the qualifications required for mayoral positions in Iceland. Finally, although there is a substantial number of mayors with similar educational backgrounds in business and economics, a high turnover and a lack of mutual understanding of the experience and education required for the position indicate low levels of professionalism. Thus, although the level of professionalism has increased in recent years, it remains considerably lower than within the American council-manager system.

Keywords


Local government; professionalism; job postings; political neutrality.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.13177/irpa.a.2016.12.1.1

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