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Patterns of voluntary extended performance reporting in Italian local authorities

Manila Marcuccio (LUISS Guido Carli – Dipartimento di Economia, Rome, Italy)
Ileana Steccolini (SDA Bocconi, Milan, Italy)

International Journal of Public Sector Management

ISSN: 0951-3558

Article publication date: 27 February 2009




The purpose of this paper is to investigate the phenomenon of voluntary extended performance reporting (EPR) by Italian local authorities (LAs) by exploring the patterns of financial and non‐financial disclosure and the factors affecting those patterns. More specifically it aims to analyse hypotheses drawing from contingency and legitimacy approaches against the content of the reports and findings discussed consistently.


The paper takes the form of a content analysis conducted on all EPRs prepared by Italian LAs. The classification scheme is based on the literature on social and environmental disclosures content analysis and is specifically designed to investigate EPR practices by governmental entities.


From the empirical analysis an extremely differentiated picture emerges. A common model of EPR does not exist; nevertheless EPR represents a significant effort by LAs in communicating performance to external stakeholders, with specific reference to the results achieved in social and economic development. Even if there is not a unique set of factors which can explain the differences in the reporting choices by Italian LAs, the analysis shows that the type of activities performed and the LAs' strategic priorities influence significantly the content of the reports.


The paper focuses on an interesting phenomenon for Italian LAs, namely the shift from a reactive compliance of law‐driven managerial reform process to a proactive adoption of managerial practices. The paper explores the under‐investigated field of voluntary social reporting in LAs. It discusses the influence of a set of external and internal factors in shaping the patterns and contents of EPR disclosure in Italian LAs. If empirical findings confirm the explicit influence of only a limited set of factors, they provide a valuable insight into how LAs use (voluntary) EPR in order to legitimise strategic and management choices.



Marcuccio, M. and Steccolini, I. (2009), "Patterns of voluntary extended performance reporting in Italian local authorities", International Journal of Public Sector Management, Vol. 22 No. 2, pp. 146-167.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2009, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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