Turnaround Management Strategies in Local Authorities: Not Only for Poor Performers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the past four decades, UK government policymakers have sought to improve the performance of local government by trying to achieve organisational turnaround and bring laggards up to the standards achieved by the leaders. Both the Conservative Party and New Labour led new public management reforms aimed at modernizing and improving local government authorities by adopting standards from the private sector. Given the pressure to improve, failing local authorities have been pushed to adopt a unique set of strategies known as turnaround management strategies (TMS). However, this paper, based on qualitative data and a survey of 126 senior local leaders, shows that TMS have been implemented to a high extent among both poor and excellent performers. The paper concludes that regardless of their objective performance ranking, English local authorities are characterised by a self-perception of underachievement. As a result, high performers continuously implement radical changes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)461-483
Number of pages23
JournalLocal Government Studies
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2012


  • Turnaround management strategies
  • excellent performance
  • organisational performance perfectionism
  • poor performance
  • recovery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Development
  • Sociology and Political Science


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