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International lessons on austerity strategy

J. Gordon Murray (Dr Gordon Murray Ltd, Lisburn, UK)
Andrew Erridge (School of Criminology, Politics and Social Policy, University of Ulster, Newtownabbey, UK)
Neil Rimmer (Local Government Group, Poole, UK)

International Journal of Public Sector Management

ISSN: 0951-3558

Article publication date: 25 May 2012




This paper aims to report lessons learnt from six countries in addressing financial crises; what they have done and the impact. It is intended that these lessons are constructive in shaping responses to the current and future financial crises.


A multiple, mini case study approach is taken which makes use of social media.


The findings suggest that the strategy being pursued within the UK for addressing the financial crisis is generally untested and therefore high‐risk. The evidence cautions that local recovery can be expected to be significantly longer than one political cycle, that social impacts will be greater than expected, and there is over‐optimism in some of the strategic tools being adopted in the UK's deficit recovery.

Research limitations/implications

Those participating, while in senior roles, were being asked to answer big questions, and although there is no reason to believe they were not answering truthfully, there are limits to what they could have reasonably been expected to know.

Practical implications

The research provides lessons for local government on how their international peers have responded to the financial crises. The intention is these international lessons will help central and local government shape timely, effective and appropriate responses, while minimising costly mistakes. It is also hoped the lessons will serve as a “reality check” for policy makers.

Social implications

The research also suggests there is a high risk that existing policy may be ambitious and have unintended adverse social implications.


The research approach is innovative in its use of social media. The research probes the impact on councils of financial crises at a local level and reports unintended consequences which might not otherwise have been identified. Lessons from other countries' responses may also be of benefit in developing future responses.



Gordon Murray, J., Erridge, A. and Rimmer, N. (2012), "International lessons on austerity strategy", International Journal of Public Sector Management, Vol. 25 No. 4, pp. 248-259.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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