Prior Publications


Special Issue on Public budgeting in search for an identity: state of the art and future challenges in Public Management Review 19(7) 2017, edited by Mariafrancesca Sicilia and Ileana Steccolini

https://www.tandfonline.com/toc/rpxm20/19/7?nav=tocList and the related Editorial https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14719037.2016.1243809


Carmela Barbera, Martin Jones, Sanja Korac, Iris Saliterer, and Ileana Steccolini (2017): “Governmental financial resilience under austerity in Austria, England and Italy: How do local governments cope with financial Shocks?” in Public Administration 95(3), 670-697.

A glimpse of it:
The recent economic and fiscal crisis provides an opportunity for learning lessons of general and practical relevance about how governments face shocks affecting their financial conditions. This article draws on the resilience concept to investigate the organizational capacities that are deployed and/or built by local governments (LGs) to respond to such shocks, looking at their combinations and interactions with environmental conditions. The article presents the results of a multiple‐case analysis of 12 European LGs across Austria, Italy and England. The analysis allows us to highlight and operationalize different patterns of financial resilience, that is, self‐regulation, constrained or reactive adaptation, contented or powerless fatalism, that are the result of the interaction and development over time of different internal and external dimensions.

Full text can be downloaded from:
https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/padm.12350


Enrico Bracci, Laura Maran, and Robert Inglis (2017): “Examining the process of performance measurement system design and implementation in two Italian public service organizations” in Financial Accountability & Management 33(4), pp. 406-421.

A glimpse of it:
In the last two decades, the adoption of new public management (NPM) practices in the public sector has increased as public sector organizations seek to improve efficiency, effectiveness and public accountability. We present case study findings of a NPM initiative to implement balanced scorecard (BSC) performance measurement systems in two Italian public sector organizations. This study considers the question of whether the BSC development process can be effectively translated into the public sector context. Our findings highlight the importance of aligning the development of performance management systems with a greater understanding of the internal and external environment of public sector organizations. Our results further emphasize the significant role of emergent stakeholders and management culture for the success of NPM performance management initiatives.

Full text can be downloaded from:
https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/faam.12131


Francesca Manes Rossi, Sandra Cohen, Eugenio Caperchione and Isabel Brusca (2016): “Harmonizing public sector accounting in Europe: thinking out of the box” in Public Money & Management 36(3), 189-196.

A glimpse of it:
A broad debate about the harmonization of public sector accounting standards in Europe is underway. The authors provide arguments in favour of harmonization, but they also acknowledge the existing pluralism and diversity by taking stock of the state of play in 14 European countries. The paper makes a proposal for a way forward for policy-makers and standard-setters, in which the benefits of harmonization can be obtained without obliging EU member countries to necessarily abandon their current public sector accounting systems.

Full text can be downloaded from:
https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09540962.2016.1133976


Davide Giacomini, Mariafrancesca Sicilia, and Ileana Steccolini (2016): “Contextualizing politicians’ uses of accounting Information: reassurance and ammunition” in Public Money & Management 36(7), 483-490.

A glimpse of it:
This paper explores the use of accounting information by local government politicians. The authors examined three very typical council decisions in both their policy formulation and decision-making stages, which had different levels of political conflict. During policy formulation, accounting information was used mostly to provide answers—improving understanding. At the decision-making stage, the level of conflict influenced the quantity of information used, as well as the way it was used. Under low political conflict, accounting information primarily provided reassurance, whereas when there were conflicts between majority and opposition politicians, accounting information was used to (de)legitimize political positions and decisions. This paper is one of the first to contextualize politicians’ use of accounting information and has important implications for practice and future research.

Full text can be downloaded from:
https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09540962.2016.1237128


Eugenio Anessi-Pessina, Carmela Barbera, Mariafrancesca Sicilia, and Ileana Steccolini (2016): “Public Sector Budgeting: A European Review of Accounting and Public Management Journals” in Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal 29(3), 491-519.

A glimpse of it:
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.  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.

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.

Full text can be downloaded from:
https://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/abs/10.1108/AAAJ-11-2013-1532


Special Issue on Public Sector Accounting and Accountability in an era of Austerity: new directions, challenges and deficits in Accounting in Auditing & Accountability Journal 28(6) 2015, edited by Enrico Bracci, Chris Humphrey, Jodie Moll, and Ileana Steccolini

http://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/full/10.1108/AAAJ.05927caa.005 and the related Editorial http://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/full/10.1108/AAAJ-06-2015-2090

This is the outcome of a panel the Special Interest Group organized during the IRPSM conference in Praque in 2013.


Giuseppe Grossi and Ileana Steccolini (2015): “Pursuing Private or Public Accountability in the Public Sector? Applying IPSASs to Define the Reporting Entity in Municipal Consolidation”, International Journal for Public Administration 38(4): 325-334.

A  glimpse of it:
Private-sector accounting systems have often been heralded as superior to public-sector ones and suggested as solutions to the shortcomings of the latter. Our article aims at contributing to this debate by looking at the adoption of business-like practices where the public and private sectors intersect. Our analysis shows that the adoption of International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSASs), strongly inspired by International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), might not ensure the expected disclosure. Municipalities adopting IPSASs for preparing consolidated financial statement do not necessarily increase accountability because some relevant public service providers are not included in the reporting entities.

Full text can be downloaded from: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/01900692.2015.1001239?scroll=top&needAccess=true


Special Issue on Performance Management in Public Services in Financial Accountability & Management 31(1) 2015, edited by Michela Arnaboldi, Irvine Lapsley, and Ileana Steccolini

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/faam.2015.31.issue-1/issuetoc and the related Editorial (Open Access!) http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/faam.12049/full


Eugenio Anessi Pessina and Mariafrancesca Sicilia (2015): ”Biased Budgeting in the Public Sector: Evidence from Italian Local Governments”. Local Government Studies 41(6): 819-840.

A  glimpse of it:
The purpose of this paper is to analyse, in terms of presence, determinants and purposes, the misrepresentation of expected revenues during budget formulation and the misrepresentation of actual revenues during budget execution. To this end, we use six-year panel data from Italian municipalities with populations above 15,000. Our results suggest that overestimations of current revenues are more frequent than underestimations, during both budget formulation and budget execution. In terms of determinants, our results highlight the impact on revenue misrepresentation of both political orientation and fiscal stress. Finally, in terms of purposes, we show that revenue underestimation during budget formulation and revenue overestimation during budget execution may contribute to the formation of surpluses. The former, in particular, may allow mayors to create a ‘war chest’ in non-election years, which can then be used to increase net borrowing on the eve of elections.

Full text can be downloaded from: http://www.inderscienceonline.com/doi/abs/10.1504/IJPSPM.2013.056070?journalCode=ijpspm


Iris Saliterer and Sanja Korac (2014):  ”The discretionary use of performance information by different local government actors-analysing and comparing the predictive power of three factor sets”, International Review of Administrative Science 80(3): 637-658.

A  glimpse of it:
In recent years, empirical research on performance information use has gained momentum, but quantitative studies, which include different actor groups, are less widespread. Building on prior research within this field, our study offers insights into various antecedents for performance information use – including individual, performance-measurement-specific, and organizational context factors. By applying a quantitative survey of different actor groups at the local government level in Austria, we draw a picture of different user profiles for mayors with administrative authority, chief officials and chief financial officials. Hence, we are able to confirm findings from former studies with other national backgrounds and contribute to a better understanding regarding some new individual aspects influencing discretionary performance information use in a strategy formulation context. Points for practitioners: It is important to gather insights on the factors driving performance information use, as the latter is a crucial indicator for whether the introduction of performance measurement is worth the effort. Moreover, the results show that the performance information use intensity of mayors, chief officials and chief financial officials is driven by different factors. The study not only contributes to a better understanding of performance measurement utilization in general, but also points to the existence of different user profiles, therefore offering implications for the development of performance management implementation strategies.

Full text can be downloaded from: http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0020852313518170


Special Section Special Section on Accounting Innovation and Public Sector Change in Critical Perspectives on Accounting 25(4-5) 2014, edited by Mariannunziata Liguori and Ileana Steccolini

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/10452354/25/4-5?sdc=1 and the related Editorial http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1045235413000531


Special Issue on Accounting for Public Governance in Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management 11(2) 2014, edited by Giuseppe Grossi and Ileana Steccolini

http://www.emeraldinsight.com/toc/qram/11/2 and the related Editorial http://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/abs/10.1108/QRAM-04-2014-0031


Symposium on Accountability processes in modern day government in International Review of Public Administration 19(2) 2014, edited by Suzanne Piotrowski and Ileana Steccolini

http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/rrpa20/19/2?nav=tocList and the related Editorial http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/12294659.2014.912449


Jarmo Vakkuri (2013): ”Interpretive schemes in performance management-measurement problems generating managerial action in Finnish local government”, International Journal of Public Sector Performance Management 2(2): 156-174.

A  glimpse of it:
This paper examines the ‘doing’ question of public sector performance by studying public organisations and managers as carriers of interpretive schemes on performance improvements and the effects of such schemes on actual managerial practices of the public sector. This paper poses two research questions: 1) how do interpretive schemes of public managers help to solve performance measurement problems in public organisations; 2) what are the related heuristic strategies of public managers to cope with decision making ambiguity in local government? The research questions are examined by utilising empirical data on Finnish local government regarding interpretive schemes and their implications for managerial decisions. The empirical dataset includes documentary material and interview data from Finnish local government. This paper argues that it is important to analyse performance measurement as a solution to organisational problems. Moreover, it is necessary to address situations in which performance measurement is a problem as such calling for managerial solutions. Those solutions and heuristics generate new unanticipated organisational action. They also have important effects and implications on public sector performance. Understanding this dynamics is most relevant for performance management research and practice.

Full text can be downloaded from: http://www.inderscienceonline.com/doi/abs/10.1504/IJPSPM.2013.056070?journalCode=ijpspm


Georgios Kominis and Adina I. Dudau (2012): ”Time for interactive control systems in the public sector? The case of the Every Child Matters police change in England”, Management Accounting Research 23(2): 142-155.

A  glimpse of it:
The study analyses a shift in the use of control systems by government in the policy area of children and young people in England. At a time when the public is becoming increasingly disillusioned with the government’s control over the work of the agencies in this policy area, high-profile cases of crises involving children have raised doubts about the effectiveness of the conventional systems of control in place to keep these organisations accountable. Indeed, there is a growing body of evidence suggesting that the traditional type of control systems in government, meant to strengthen public accountability, consistently fail to promote high standards of care.This paper utilises a middle range thinking methodology (Broadbent and Laughlin, 1998) to describe and interpret changes in the policy area of children and young people in England highlighting implications for inter-organisational control. Through the lens of the Simons’s levers of control (LOC) framework (1995), it advances the argument that the government is complementing their traditional diagnostic control systems with more interactive ones, principally in an attempt to manage more effectively the risk and uncertainty increasingly present in their environment. An in-depth study of a Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB) in ‘Brempton’, North West England, balanced with case evidence from policy documents, extends existing research in the area of control of inter-organisational relationships in the public sector.

Full text can be downloaded from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1044500512000170


Mariannunziata Liguori and Ileana Steccolini (2011): ”Accounting change: explaining the outcomes, interpreting the process”, Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal 25(1):27-70.

A  glimpse of it:
Purpose: The issue of accounting change, why and how accounting evolves through time and within specific organisational settings, has been addressed by an important body of literature. This paper aims to explain why, in processes of accounting change, organisations confronting similar environmental pressures show different outcomes of Change. Design/methodology/approach: Drawing on archetype theory, the paper analyses the case of two Italian local governments. Comparative case studies were carried out, reconstructing a period of 15 years.  Findings: Although confronted with similar environmental pressures, the two cases show two different patterns of accounting change, where only one case is able to finally reach radical change. Accounting change can be prompted by external stimuli, but, once the change is prompted, the outcomes of the change are explained by the dynamics of intra‐organisational conditions. Originality/value: The study contributes to accounting change literature by adopting an approach (i.e. archetype theory) that overcomes some of the limitations of previous studies in explaining variations in organisational change. Through this, the authors are able to explain different outcomes and paces of accounting change and point out the intra‐organisational factors also affecting them in the presence of similar environmental pressures. A specification of the theoretical framework in a particular setting is also provided.

Full text can be downloaded from: http://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/abs/10.1108/09513571211191743