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Resilience Patterns of French Municipalities: A Case Study

Governmental Financial Resilience

ISBN: 978-1-78714-263-3, eISBN: 978-1-78714-262-6

Publication date: 30 May 2017


French municipalities are in charge of a large number of local public services and benefit from a good, even if decreasing, financial autonomy. They have been until recently and despite the 2008 crisis, in a good financial situation supported by stable tax revenues and protective national policies. But they are now weakened by strong cuts in their main operating grant operated from 2015.

Through a case study, this chapter attempts to better understand French municipalities’ patterns of financial resilience in times of austerity. Interviews have been driven in four middle size municipalities in various financial situation, to understand the effects of the crisis on their vulnerability and the influence of their financial and organisational capacities on their resilience patterns.

The study shows that all four municipalities enhanced their responsiveness following the 2015 cut in grants. The latter appeared as a major shock that prompts them to change their behaviours and strengthen their resilience. But municipalities took up different paths of resilience, building up or investing in different anticipatory and coping capacities. Buffering capacities, such as cost cuts, were present in all cases to cope with shocks. Conversely, adapting and transforming capacities were not as prevalent. The pro-active resilient municipality relies on a mix of capacities. But three out of four cases show patterns of financial resilience that leave them insufficiently prepared for future shocks. This research shows the necessity to develop and constantly maintain anticipatory and coping capacities that are suitable for tackling the municipalities’ specific vulnerability sources.



du Boys, C. (2017), "Resilience Patterns of French Municipalities: A Case Study", Governmental Financial Resilience (Public Policy and Governance, Vol. 27), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 93-113.



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