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Kimberly L. Nelson

Albert and Gladys Hall Coates Distinguished Term Professor of Public Administration and Government

Kim Nelson joined the School of Government in August 2013. She is a member of the Public Administration Review editorial board since January 2016 and will serve a three-year term. She taught for seven years in the MPA program at Northern Illinois University, where she received the 2010 Professor of the Year award from the students of the Division of Public Administration. Her research and teaching interests include local government management, form of government, and innovation in local government. Previously, she taught at Southern Illinois University, the University of North Carolina Wilmington, and North Carolina State University. Nelson received an MPA from the University of Texas at San Antonio, and a PhD from North Carolina State University.  

Selected Publications:

Municipal Choices During a Recession: Bounded Rationality and Innovation."  State and Local Government Review, 44 (1S): 44-63. K. L. Nelson, 2012.

Form of Government Still Matters: Fostering Innovation in U.S. Municipal Governments.”  American Review of Public Administration, 42 (3): 257-281. K.L. Nelson, K. L. and J. H. Svara, 2012.

Conflict and Cooperation in Municipalities: Do Variations in Form of Government Have an Effect?”  Urban Affairs Review, 47(5): 696-720. K. L. Nelson and K. Nollenberger.  2011.

State Level Autonomy and Municipal Government Structure: Influence on Form of Government Outcomes.”  American Review of Public Administration, 41 (5): 542-561. K. L. Nelson, 2011.


Additional Publications


Nelson, Kimberly L. and James H. Svara. 2015. The Roles of Local Government Managers in Theory and Practice: A Centennial PerspectivePublic Administration Review, 75(1): 49-61.

Lange, R. and Nelson, K.L. 2014. Advancing Women in Local Government: The Case of IllinoisPublic Voices, 13(2): 89–106.

Bryer, T. and Nelson, K.L. 2013. Social Media Adaptation in Urban Governance: A Conceptual Model.  In Citizen e-Participation in Urban Governance, Carlos Nunes Silva, Editor. IGI Global Publishers.

Gabris, G.T. and Nelson, K.L. 2013. Transforming Municipal Boards into Accountable, High-Performing Teams: Toward a Diagnostic Model of Governing Board Effectiveness. Public Performance and Management Review, 36(3): 473–496.

Nelson, K.L., Gabris, G., and Davis, T. 2011What Makes Municipal Councils Effective?  An Empirical Analysis of How Council Members Perceive Their Group Interactions and Processes. State and Local Government Review, 43 (3): 196–204.

Nelson, K.L., Wood, C.H., and Gabris, G.T. 2011. Innovation management in local government: An empirical analysis of suburban municipalities. International Journal of Organization Theory and Behavior, 14 (3): 301–328.

Nelson, K.L. and Svara, J. H. 2010. Adaptation of models versus variations in form: Classifying structures of city governmentUrban Affairs Review, 45 (4): 544–562.

Gabris, G.T., Davis, T., and Nelson, K. 2010. Demand and supply: Assessing the capacity of MPA programs to satisfy the growing need for professional management in local government. Journal of Public Affairs Education, 16 (3): 379–400.


Nelson, K.L. and Svara, J.H. 2014. Upholding and Expanding the Roles of Local Government Managers: State of the Profession 2012. In 2014 Municipal Yearbook. Washington, DC: ICMA.

Nelson, K.L. 2014. Managed Competition. Book chapter in Alternative Service Delivery: Readiness Check (Ed. Kurt Thurmaier). Washington, DC: ICMA.

Gabris, G.T., Nelson, K.L., and Wood, C.H. 2009. Managing for innovation in local government: Three core strategic factors. Government Finance Review. 25 (6): 22–28.

Svara, J.H. and Nelson, K.L. 2008. Taking stock of form and structure in county governmentPublic Management.  90 (11): 21–26.

Svara, J.H. and Nelson, K.L. 2008. Council-manager government at 100: Growing and making a difference. Public Management. 90 (7): 6–15.

Nelson, K.L. 2002. Assessing the role of CAOs in strong-mayor governmentsNational Civic Review. 91 (1): 41–54.

Nelson, K.L. 2002. Elected Municipal Councils. Special Data Issue no. 3. Washington, DC: International City/County Management Association.

Nelson, K.L. 2002. Structure of American Municipal Government. Special Data Issue no. 4. Washington, DC: International City/County Management Association.

Curriculum Vitae (pdf, 136.93 KB)
Fields of Expertise
City and County Managers
City Government (Management)
County Government (Management)
Elected Officials (Non-Legal)
Form of Government
Governing Boards (Management)
Leadership Development
Local Government Organization/Administration
Public Administration
Public Management
Strategic Planning and Visioning
Women in Public Service
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