Studying administrative reforms through textual analysis: the case of Italian central government accounting

Liguori, M, Steccolini, I and Rota, S 2018, 'Studying administrative reforms through textual analysis: the case of Italian central government accounting', International Review of Administrative Sciences, vol. 84, no. 2, pp. 308-333.

Document type: Journal Article
Collection: Journal Articles

Title Studying administrative reforms through textual analysis: the case of Italian central government accounting
Author(s) Liguori, M
Steccolini, I
Rota, S
Year 2018
Journal name International Review of Administrative Sciences
Volume number 84
Issue number 2
Start page 308
End page 333
Total pages 26
Publisher Sage Publications Ltd.
Abstract This article contributes to the literature on public sector reforms by proposing textual analysis as a useful research strategy to explore how reform archetypes and related ideas are deployed in the parliamentary debate and regulations advancing reforms. Public Administration (PA), New Public Management (NPM) and Public Governance (GOV) can be depicted as three different archetypes providing characteristic administrative ideas and concepts and related tools and practices, which lead reforms. We use textual analysis to look into more than 20 years of Italian central government accounting reforms and investigate how the three administrative archetypes have evolved, intertwined and replaced each other. Textual analysis proves a useful tool through which to investigate reform processes and allows us to show that in neo-Weberian countries, such as Italy, NPM and GOV, far from being revolutionary paradigms, may represent fashionable trends that have not left significant traces in the practice and rhetoric of reforms. Points for practitioners: In contexts based on civil law traditions, the introduction of new reforms appears to be slow and difficult, and is often more successful when it respects extant PA systems, which remain well rooted in the public sector. Decision-makers may want to keep this into consideration when proposing or implementing new changes. From an organizational point of view, this underlines the importance of reassuring civil servants and politicians of the consistency of the new proposed models with those they have been accustomed to, and of using the traditional language of PA to explain and introduce new ideas and tools and make them more acceptable. However, this has to be balanced by an actual change in the old systems and routines, using continuity to bring about change and avoiding the re-enactment of merely formalistic approaches.
Subject Business and Management not elsewhere classified
Keyword(s) accounting reforms
New Public Management
public governance
reform archetypes
textual analysis
DOI - identifier 10.1177/0020852315619023
Copyright notice © The Author(s) 2016
ISSN 0020-8523
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 6 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
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