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Article
Publication date: 9 October 2020

Eugenio Anessi-Pessina, Carmela Barbera, Cecilia Langella, Francesca Manes-Rossi, Alessandro Sancino, Mariafrancesca Sicilia and Ileana Steccolini

The paper aims to offer a viewpoint on how governmental budgeting needs to be reconsidered after the COVID-19 outbreak.

Abstract

Purpose

The paper aims to offer a viewpoint on how governmental budgeting needs to be reconsidered after the COVID-19 outbreak.

Design/methodology/approach

Building on extant research, and drawing on the Italian context, the paper provides reflections on four interrelated aspects: (1) how budgeting and reporting processes and formats are being modified; (2) how budgeting may enhance governments' financial resilience; (3) how citizens are involved in the budgeting cycles and (4) how emergency responses may produce opportunities for corruption.

Findings

To tackle COVID-19 related challenges, budgeting, rebudgeting, reporting processes and formats need to be reconsidered and supported by the development of new competencies. Governments will need to put stronger emphasis on the anticipatory and coping roles of budgeting to reduce public organizations' exposure to shocks and support governmental resilience. The involvement of citizens has proven critical to face the pandemic and will become increasingly relevant due to the financial impacts of COVID-19 on future public service provision. Greater attention to the risks of increased corruption is also needed.

Originality/value

Drawing lessons from one of the countries most hit by COVID-19, the paper offers a viewpoint on a timely topic of international relevance by looking in an integrated way at interrelated topics such as budgeting, rebudgeting, reporting, financial resilience, coproduction and corruption.

Details

Journal of Public Budgeting, Accounting & Financial Management, vol. 32 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1096-3367

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Article
Publication date: 19 August 2019

Eugenio Anessi-Pessina, Josette Caruana, Mariafrancesca Sicilia and Ileana Steccolini

The purpose of this paper is to examine how the convergence of private and public sector accounting standards is affecting conceptual and practical issues relating to…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine how the convergence of private and public sector accounting standards is affecting conceptual and practical issues relating to heritage. More specifically, the paper is intended to provide a better understanding of the state of the art in national and international accounting standards on heritage assets, and of the views influencing such standards.

Design/methodology/approach

A qualitative documentary analysis is carried out to explore the variety of existing positions and views on heritage, ranging from the scholarly literature, through potential stakeholders and users, to international and national standard setters.

Findings

The analysis shows that the path of convergence between public and private sector standards and practices is still problematic. After more than two decades of debate around the nature, definition, measurement, and reporting of heritage, these issues are far from settled.

Research limitations/implications

In the light of calls for increased measurement and reporting of public sector “assets”, and specifically for the definition of standards to recognise heritage, the paper suggests the need to strongly reconsider whether the convergence between public and private sector standards is desirable, feasible and effective. As such, the risks of embracing simplified or hybrid forms of accounting and reporting for heritage should be more seriously assessed. While reporting on heritage is important, it is fundamental to keep it distinct from reporting on government’s regular operations, in order to appreciate its specific value, nature and features.

Originality/value

Looking at European national standards for heritage, the IPSASB’s proposals, and the reactions to the latter by relevant stakeholders, the paper provides a pluralistic view on the positions and experiences about heritage, contributing to the debate on the convergence between private and public sector accounting standards.

Details

International Journal of Public Sector Management, vol. 33 no. 2/3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3558

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Book part
Publication date: 11 November 2014

Mariannunziata Liguori, Mariafrancesca Sicilia and Ileana Steccolini

The study contributes to the literature on public value and performance examining politicians’ and managers’ perspectives by investigating the importance they attach to…

Abstract

Purpose

The study contributes to the literature on public value and performance examining politicians’ and managers’ perspectives by investigating the importance they attach to the different facets of performance information (i.e. budgetary, accrual based- and non-financial information (NFI)).

Design/methodology/approach

We survey politicians and managers in all Italian municipalities of at least 80,000 inhabitants.

Findings

Overall, NFI is more appreciated than financial information (FI). Moreover, budgetary accounting is preferred to accrual accounting. Politicians’ and managers’ preferences are generally aligned.

Research limitations/implications

NFI as a measure of public value is not alternative, but rather complementary, to FI. The latter remains a fundamental element of public sector accounting due to its role in resource allocation and control.

Practical implications

The preference for NFI over FI and of budgetary over accruals accounting suggests that the current predominant emphasis on (accrual-based) financial reporting might be misplaced.

Originality/value

Public value and performance are multi-faceted concepts. They can be captured by different types of information and evaluated according to different criteria, which will also depend on the category of stakeholders or users who assesses public performance. So far, most literature has considered the financial and non-financial facets of performance as virtually separate. Similarly, in the practice, financial management tends to be decoupled from non-financial performance management. However, this research shows that only by considering their joint interactions we can achieve an accurate representation of what public value really is.

Details

Public Value Management, Measurement and Reporting
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78441-011-7

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Article
Publication date: 30 March 2010

Daniela Cristofoli, Angelo Ditillo, Mariannunziata Liguori, Mariafrancesca Sicilia and Ileana Steccolini

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the mechanisms adopted by cities to control the provision of externalized public services and to explore the determinants of…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the mechanisms adopted by cities to control the provision of externalized public services and to explore the determinants of such control choices.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper presents the results of a multiple case study based on the experiences of three cities and three public services (transport, solid waste collection and home care services for the elderly), where control mechanisms and their possible antecedents were analyzed.

Findings

The results show that the control models found in the cases analyzed do not correspond to the “pure” patterns described in the private sector literature and that the factors identified by management control contributions do not seem to be exhaustive in explaining the configuration of control systems in the public sector. While environmental and task characteristics only partially explain the adoption of certain configurations of control, the features of the control systems seem to be rather influenced by variables that are related to party characteristics.

Originality/value

The paper shows that the combinations of control mechanisms are more multifaceted than those presented in the literature, and that the factors identified in the private sector literature do not seem to explain comprehensively the configuration of control systems in the public sector.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 23 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Article
Publication date: 21 March 2016

Eugenio Anessi-Pessina, Carmela Barbera, Mariafrancesca Sicilia and Ileana Steccolini

Budgeting is central in public organizations. From a research viewpoint, it is an extremely multifaceted and potentially rich field to investigate and develop. The…

Abstract

Purpose

Budgeting is central in public organizations. From a research viewpoint, it is an extremely multifaceted and potentially rich field to investigate and develop. The changing institutional and socio-economic landscape, moreover, requires a profound reassessment of its roles and features in accounting studies. The purpose of this paper is to review the existing European literature on public budgeting, looking at how public administration, public management, and accounting contribute to current budgeting theories and practices and to advance a proposal on how they can individually and jointly contribute in the future.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors collect and analyze all the papers on public budgeting in the European context that were published in all the issues of 15 major accounting and public-management journals since 1980.

Findings

Budgeting has so far played a rather marginal role in European public management and accounting research. Among the existing papers, most focus on the Anglo-Saxon context, look at the intra-organizational aspects of budgeting, emphasize its managerial and allocative functions, either adopt an interpretive theoretical framework or make no explicit reference to theory, and rely on qualitative analyses. Public budgeting lies at the intersections between different disciplines and professions, but this multifacetedness has been largely neglected by the existing literature. These intersections thus offer significant opportunities for future research. Building on the distinction between the intra- and inter-organizational foci of budgeting, between its different functions (i.e. allocative, managerial, external accountability), and between the accounting and the public administration and management perspectives, the authors propose possible future research topics.

Originality/value

Budgeting plays a central role in public organizations and is used to allocate a large share of national incomes. This paper explores the existing literature and puts forward some potentially fruitful avenues for future research.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 29 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Article
Publication date: 29 May 2009

Mariannunziata Liguori, Mariafrancesca Sicilia and Ileana Steccolini

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…

Abstract

Purpose

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).

Design/methodology/approach

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.

Findings

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.

Originality/value

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.

Details

International Journal of Public Sector Management, vol. 22 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3558

Keywords

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Book part
Publication date: 11 November 2014

Abstract

Details

Public Value Management, Measurement and Reporting
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78441-011-7

Content available
Article
Publication date: 20 February 2017

Abstract

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 30 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Article
Publication date: 4 December 2018

Ileana Steccolini

The purpose of this paper is to reflect various pathways for public sector accounting and accountability research in a post-new public management (NPM) context.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to reflect various pathways for public sector accounting and accountability research in a post-new public management (NPM) context.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper first discusses the relationship between NPM and public sector accounting research. It then explores the possible stimuli that inter-disciplinary accounting scholars may derive from recent public administration studies, public policy and societal trends, highlighting possible ways to extend public sector accounting research and strengthen dialogue with other disciplines.

Findings

NPM may have represented a golden age, but also a “golden cage,” for the development of public sector accounting research. The paper reflects possible ways out of this golden cage, discussing future avenues for public sector accounting research. In doing so, it highlights the opportunities offered by re-considering the “public” side of accounting research and shifting the attention from the public sector, seen as a context for public sector accounting research, to publicness, as a concept central to such research.

Originality/value

The paper calls for stronger engagement with contemporary developments in public administration and policy. This could be achieved by looking at how public sector accounting accounts for, but also impacts on, issues of wider societal relevance, such as co-production and hybridization of public services, austerity, crises and wicked problems, the creation and maintenance of public value and democratic participation.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 32 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

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