Do strategy and management matter in municipal organisations?

Hans Knutsson, Ola Mattisson, Ulf Ramberg, Torbjörn Tagesson

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    In Sweden, a large share of public services are organised, produced and delivered by municipalities, large and small, rich and poor. Contextual conditions (size and location) and economic conditions (efficiency and wealth) differ considerably among these service-providing organisations. The question raised in this paper is whether a municipality's economic situation is a direct consequence of the contextual situation or the organisation's strategy and management – that is: Do strategy and management matter? Our analysis rests on a resource-based view of organisation strategy. Both quantitative and qualitative observations have been made. First, cost savings data from 50 municipalities were examined for patterns and relationships between contextual and economic conditions. Second, about 100 representatives – municipal executive board members and leading officials – from 20 municipalities with different characteristics were interviewed. In this paper we outline an analytical framework and propose that sound and sustainable provision of municipal service depends on whether organisational decision-making is in harmony with work methods and objectives. The results indicate that strategy and management do matter. Among the municipalities included in our study, we identify four prevalent basic strategies. Strategy tends to coincide with the economic situation rather than the contextual situation. A low-performing municipality tends to have a predominantly outward orientation in its decision-making, whereas a higher-performing municipality makes decisions with both inward and outward orientation.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)295-319
    Number of pages24
    JournalFinancial Accountability and Management
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2008

    Swedish Standard Keywords

    • Business Administration (50202)
    • Social Sciences (5)


    • Economic situation
    • management
    • municipalities
    • resource-based theory
    • strategy


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