Studies on how accounting is involved in financial crises and austerity are limited. The context of austerity provides an interesting opportunity to explore the role of accounting in shaping governmental financial resilience, i.e. the capacity of governments to cope with shocks affecting their financial conditions.
Based on a multiple case analysis of eight Italian municipalities, this paper explores how accounting contributes to the government capacities which are used to anticipate and respond to shocks affecting public finances.
Municipalities cope with financial shocks differently; accounting can support self–regulation and can affect internally-led or externally-led adaptation. Different combinations of anticipatory and coping capacities lead to different responses to shocks.
The findings can be useful for public managers, policymakers and oversight bodies for strengthening governmental financial resilience in the face of crises and austerity.
The results provide evidence of the conditions, contexts, processes under which accounting becomes a medium which can support both anticipation of and coping with financial shocks, supporting cuts in some cases and resistance in the short run or driving long-term changes intended to maintain public services as much intact as possible. This highlights the existence of different patterns of governmental financial resilience and thus indicates ways of best preserving the service of the public interest.
This research has not received any external funding.
Barbera, C., Guarini, E. and Steccolini, I. (2020), "How do governments cope with austerity? The roles of accounting in shaping governmental financial resilience", Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/AAAJ-11-2018-3739Download as .RIS
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