The Efficiency of Municipal Service Provision: A Study on the Example of Saxony-Anhalt
Against the background of the latest reforms of municipal territories in Sachsen-Anhalt, this paper aims to empirically investigate for this federal state whether the former, very small scale structure of municipal administration could generally be termed “inefficient“. It is of particular importance to determine whether decentralised forms of administration, such as the administrative associations that have been dissolved, are characterised by an efficiency disadvantage in comparison to more strongly centralised standard-municipalities, and whether the former municipalities were too small in terms of their “operational size“. No justification for the creation of large municipal entities can be derived from the analysis conducted. Owing to the settlement structure and limited possible economies of scale, it is thus not only to be feared that territorially large municipalities in rural areas will fail to significantly improve cost efficiency in the provision of municipal services. Rather, it may also be the case that efficiency will actually decline, as such “giant municipalities“ are often attended by disincentive effects for citizens as well as for policy and administration (e.g. little civil society involvement arising from a lack of identification with the municipality, lack of control of political decision-makers, low levels of preference-justice in administrative action).