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

The duration of financial stress: A factor impacting on the implementation of NPM‐delivery forms in local government

José Luis Zafra‐Gómez (University of Granada, Granada, Spain)
Antonio M. López‐Hernández (University of Granada, Granada, Spain)
Ana María Plata Díaz (University of Granada, Granada, Spain)
Gemma Pérez López (University of Granada, Granada, Spain)

Academia Revista Latinoamericana de Administración

ISSN: 1012-8255

Article publication date: 3 November 2014

Abstract

Purpose

Financial stress features frequently as an explanatory factor in research into decisions concerning the contracting out, or decentralisation, of local public services, though existing empirical studies are not unanimous in their conclusions. The understanding of how financial crises influence these processes could be enhanced by the use of a dynamic methodology that takes into account the following three aspects: the duration of the financial stress, the effectiveness of the action taken and the time‐lag between the crisis and the response. The paper aims to discuss these issues.

Design/methodology/approach

This study introduces three important innovations in the methodology employed to study financial stress: the consideration of the duration of a financial stress episode as a key factor in promoting changes in the provision of public services; the effectiveness of the measures taken; and time‐lag, which takes into account the extended time horizon over which the local authority may implement business‐like and organisational changes.

Findings

To date, the techniques used to measure the effects of changes in service delivery methods implemented to alleviate financial stress, have not reflected the true nature of the phenomenon. The results obtained when the new approach proposed in this paper was used to examine Spanish local government responses to financial stress during the period 1999‐2007 confirm that the methodology is well‐judged and effective.

Originality/value

This study reveals that local authorities facing financial stress of two, three or four years’ duration present percentages of decentralisation and contracting‐out that are significantly higher than is the case for local authorities that implement the same processes in response to crises of one year. These findings confirm the need to carry out studies that include the duration of financial crises as a determinant factor in change processes.

Resumen

El estrés financiero como factor explicativo es una característica recurrente en la investigación sobre la privatización/descentralización de los servicios públicos locales, aunque los estudios empíricos previos no son unánimes en sus conclusiones. Nuestro conocimiento de la influencia de las crisis financieras en estos procesos se podría mejorar mediante el uso de una metodología dinámica que tenga en cuenta los tres aspectos siguientes: la duración de la tensión financiera, el tiempo que transcurre entre la crisis y la respuesta hecha, y la eficacia de esta acción. Al aplicar esta nueva metodología, se demuestra que, hasta la fecha, los métodos utilizados para medir los efectos de los cambios en las formas de prestación de servicios, como un medio de aliviar la tensión financiera, no han reflejado la verdadera naturaleza del fenómeno. Los resultados obtenidos con esta nueva propuesta confirman que la metodología aplicada es la correcta y efectiva en los gobiernos locales españoles para el período 1999‐2007.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors are grateful for the financial support of (ECO2013‐48413‐R), received from the Spanish Ministry of Science and Education, (P11‐SEJ‐7700) from Proyectos de Excelencia de la Consejería de Innovación, Ciencia y Empresa, Junta de Andalucía (Spain) and “Cátedra Pasqual Maragall de Economía y Territorio”, Universitat de Barcelona, Barcelona (Spain). Finally, Ana María Plata‐Diaz is grateful to the financial support of Consejería de Economía, Innovación, Ciencia y Empleo de la Junta de Andalucía y Fondo Europeo de Desarrollo Regional.

Citation

Zafra‐Gómez, J.L., López‐Hernández, A.M., Plata Díaz, A.M. and López, G.P. (2014), "The duration of financial stress: A factor impacting on the implementation of NPM‐delivery forms in local government", Academia Revista Latinoamericana de Administración, Vol. 27 No. 3, pp. 366-385. https://doi.org/10.1108/ARLA-04-2013-0035

Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited