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

The developing environment for strategy formation in the smaller local authority

Cynthia Dereli (Edge Hill College, Ormskirk, UK)

International Journal of Public Sector Management

ISSN: 0951-3558

Article publication date: 17 July 2007




The purpose of this paper is to build on a previous study of strategy in the public sector by Dereli in 2003. In the intervening period the environmental factors influencing local government's approach to strategy have changed considerably, particularly with the government's changed emphasis from best value to comprehensive performance assessment as its methodology for assessing local authorities. The impact of CPA on strategy formation in local authorities is the central focus of this study. The starting point for the research is the question of whether the tension between top‐down and bottom‐up strategy formation which was evident in the earlier study has disappeared, increased or been replaced by other tensions.


The research involved semi‐structured interviews with Chief Executive Officers and middle managers in three smaller local authorities in England.


The research found that living with a top‐down/bottom‐up tension in the creation of strategy is almost a norm, but that there is also evidence of a further tension between strategy making and performance management, from which flow some concerns about the future of strategy in local government.

Research limitations/implications

The paper records the views of local government officers, as key participants in the processes of strategy formation in their authorities as valuable evidence in a changing local government scene. The research acknowledges the external factors creating the new set of tensions in local government, which are examined here. It does not seek to examine the relative diachronic impact of these external factors, a piece of work which could usefully explore further the relation between pressures from the centre and local strategy directions.


In the present public sector context, where major reforms are on the horizon, the paper records a snapshot of opinion from key participants in strategy formation in three smaller local authorities.



Dereli, C. (2007), "The developing environment for strategy formation in the smaller local authority", International Journal of Public Sector Management, Vol. 20 No. 5, pp. 366-379.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2007, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Related articles