Local Government Association

Self, Sector or Centre? Approaches to Turnaround

by Claire Collins

Local Government Association

Self, Sector or Centre? Approaches to Turnaround

by Claire Collins

by Claire Collins
Client: Local Government Association
Project: Self, Sector or Centre? Approaches to Turnaround
Year: 2014
Team: Mike Bennett, Tim Allen, Clive Grace and Steve Martin

Project Details

The purpose of this commission was to look at the relative strengths of the two principal approaches to organisational turnaround in local government: sector-led improvement and central government-led intervention.

We define a ‘turnaround’ as based on a broad consensus of informed external opinion (in both the sector and/or central government) that an authority is in crisis and cannot solve its problems on its own. These are the cases where external capability, capacity and resources are required (and which are, at least in part, externally directed) to turn around the culture, capacity and performance of the authority.

Our Work

We carried in-depth primary research in Doncaster and Wirral, including interviews with some key organisations in this field, together with a review of evidence drawn from a wide range of other turnarounds following organisational failure in councils, other public services and in private sector situations. We began by assessing this wider evidence base and mining it for lessons about why turnaround becomes necessary in the first place, the tools and strategies available for tackling the task, the nature of the wider ‘improvement system’ within which it has to operate, and the conditions under which self, sector or centre-led approaches are most likely to be successful.

The report then presents the key findings from the two case studies of turnaround, testing them against those wider lessons and drawing out new insights.

The final section brings together our overall findings and conclusions and sets out an emerging framework for deciding how to optimise the sector’s role in providing improvement and turnaround leadership.

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