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Politicians versus managers: roles and interactions in accounting cycles

Mariannunziata Liguori (Bocconi University, Milan, Italy)
Mariafrancesca Sicilia (Bocconi University, Milan, Italy)
Ileana Steccolini (Bocconi University, Milan, Italy)

International Journal of Public Sector Management

ISSN: 0951-3558

Article publication date: 29 May 2009




The purpose of this paper is to contribute to the new public management (NPM) literature by investigating how politicians and managers perceive their relationships and respective roles during the accounting cycle and using multiple cases of Italian local government (LGs).


Drawing on public administration and public management literature, the paper depicts models of interaction between managers and politicians through the analysis of the cases of five Departments in three Italian LGs.


Results show that, in contrast with NPM claims, no model of neat separation between politicians and managers can be depicted in the analyzed cases. Rather, alternatively patterns of sequential or reciprocal integration emerge, together with some cases of “confusion”.

Research limitations/implications

Further research is needed in order to investigate the factors that can explain the types of interactions and roles.


The paper fills the gap in NPM literature that gives scant importance to the political dimension and its relationship with management in public organizations. It addresses the diversity in the perceptions of politicians and managers as to their roles and relationships.



Liguori, M., Sicilia, M. and Steccolini, I. (2009), "Politicians versus managers: roles and interactions in accounting cycles", International Journal of Public Sector Management, Vol. 22 No. 4, pp. 310-323.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2009, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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