Comparative research on inter-municipal cooperation in eight European countries shows that there is a great variety of institutional arrangements for cooperation across the different countries. Also, these arrangements tend to change over time in terms of the scope of cooperation among partners, their composition and the degree of organizational integration. This article describes and analyzes the variety of and shifts in institutional arrangements for a specific class of inter-municipal cooperation arrangements: those that are set up to provide for the joint delivery of public services. It is argued that specific arrangements are typically the outcomes of interaction between national institutional contexts, environmental factors and local preferences. © The Author(s) 2009.