To read this content please select one of the options below:

A descriptive case study of effective decision-making of a local government organization in the United States of America

Jennifer Capler (University of Phoenix, Tempe, Arizona, USA)

International Journal of Public Leadership

ISSN: 2056-4929

Article publication date: 21 May 2020

Issue publication date: 31 July 2020




This article details a qualitative descriptive case study of affective factors of effective decision-making of one local government organization in the United States of America. The specific problem was that many elected American local government representatives lack effective decision-making strategies. This research focus indicated a lack of qualitative research on the real-world experience of factors that were taken into consideration during decision-making within American local government organizations.


Using a local government organization in southwest Illinois, elected representatives were interviewed and observed. The interviews and observations surfaced how the representatives made decisions. Data were analyzed using manual coding and theming to determine themes and patterns.


The results produced six themes about factors, including emotional intelligence, which impacted decision-making. They are: (1) remembering the past, (2) communication and respect, (3) spurring economic growth and development, (4) fairness, (5) recognizing and removing emotions and bias and (6) accountability.

Research limitations/implications

Being a single case study, this research is limited in generalization. The research was limited to the identification of current, real-world experience of elected local government representatives.

Practical implications

The findings of this research can be used to create more effective decision-making practices for local government organizations of similar size.


This is the first study to review, in-depth, the decision-making and emotional intelligence factors of local government organizations in the United States of America. The conceptual background, discussion, implications to local government organizations, limitations and recommendations for future studies are discussed.



I would like to thank Dr. Patricia D'Urso for helping the transition from scholar to researcher, and for spending the time to help me work out some editing. I would also like to thank my family and dearest friends, who encouraged me and lifted me through my doctoral journey. You know who you are and you mean the world to me.Funding: The author received no financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.


Capler, J. (2020), "A descriptive case study of effective decision-making of a local government organization in the United States of America", International Journal of Public Leadership, Vol. 16 No. 3, pp. 279-297.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

Related articles