Intended Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctorate in Public Administration (DPA)


Carol Becker


Dr. Beth Wielde-Heidelberg

Committee Member

Dr. Craig Waldron



County government is an overlay of history striving to adapt to an uncertain future. Increasing arrays of complex issues face public administrators in counties as they grow and urbanize within metropolitan regions. Of the 3,031counties in the United States, 1,100 are now included within the 366 Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) and that number is growing as urbanization expands. As development pushes outward into the peripheral suburbs, county officials are confronted with emerging issues that existing policies fail. The challenge remains an open question that this dissertation attempts to address by exploring the theory that high-velocity growth in counties located on the fringe of expanding metropolitan areas creates a unique and distinct array of administrative conflicts: Edge County Syndrome.

Two methodologies were utilized. First, population data from the US Census Bureau between 1990 and 2010 of 1,100 urban counties found within MSAs. Within that grouping, 374 Growth Counties were identified whose population had grown at or above one standard deviation. Locational criteria defined three distinct types of Growth Counties revealing 280 Edge Counties. Second, a case study utilizing a qualitative survey comprised of eighteen questions guided interviews that probed administrative realities of rapid growth. Two Edge Counties were paired and compared with adjacent Core Counties from two separate regions that had experienced modest to no growth within the same timeframe leading to the projects focus on Edge Counties. Sixteen growth-related conflicts impacting public administration were revealed and grouped into four broad categories: budget conflicts, relationship conflicts, planning conflicts, and administrative conflicts, forming the findings that created Edge County Syndrome.








School of Business Student Theses and Dissertations