Local administrative capacity based on the presence of expert staff in municipal city halls and inter-municipal cooperation entities

Eva Marín Hlynsdóttir


Local government in Iceland has been through extensive functional reforms in the past three decades. Territorial reforms have been less successful even though the central government has openly aimed to enhance the capacity of the local governments. This study aims to estimate the administrative capacity of Icelandic local governments by estimating the level of expertise in the tasks of planning, education and social service. The findings show that there is a considerable difference with respect to size, as municipalities with more than 3,000 citizens have much higher levels of expertise in comparison to smaller municipalities. The municipalities are only partially able to turn to inter-municipal cooperation (IMC) for compensation because the municipalities in more densely populated areas are more likely to set up IMC entities than those in more sparsely populated areas. The municipalities in less populated areas are also more likely to buy their services from private service providers. Moreover, the smallest municipalities have transferred a large bulk of their functions to other municipalities through contracting. The findings suggest that IMCs may not be the best answer for small municipalities, especially those in rural and remote areas.


Administrative capacity; municipal size; inter-municipal cooperation (IMC).


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.13177/irpa.a.2019.15.1.1


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