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Central and Local Government

  • Unit(s) of assessment: Business and Management Studies
  • School: Nottingham Business School


The Central and Local Government team led by Martin Jones has recently diversified its interests and investigations. Prior to 2013, it was primarily concerned with investigating performance management in the public services and in particular, strategic interventions in local government by central government that was a notable feature of the previous labour governments’ tenure in the UK.

Following the economic recession, the election of the coalition government and the appointment in 2013 of Visiting Professor Ileana Steccolini, new projects assessing the financial and organisational resilience of local government internationally both as a response to the current era of austerity and in the post-recession long term have been developed and added to the units’ portfolio.

In November 2015 NBS hosted the third annual research seminar and workshop of the SIG on a theme “Bridging the Gap between Theory and Practice”. The workshop was a ‘working’ or development event as well as a networking opportunity. At the workshop the idea of using the SIG to produce a polyphonic paper on engaging academia with professional practice was suggested with the ambition that a paper be produced in sufficient time to develop the initiative further at the 2016 workshop in Venice. By October 2016, 37 authors had assessed 14 countries and the paper was submitted to the AAAJ.

There were currently three inter-related work streams investigating central and local government issues, from which the group will fashion an impact case study relating to Public Assurance and Value for Money for the 2020 REF.

  • Work stream 1

    International comparisons of local authority financial and organisational resilience.

    This project investigates the financial and organisational resilience in local government through a number of international comparisons. The work is organised around, the Accounting and Finance SIG of the IRSPM. And is supported by CIMA. Professor Steccolini is the leader of this group with Martin Jones and Pete Murphy contributing.

    A complementary project by another international collaboration of scholars has been initiated by the European Group for Public Administration.

    This team are examining whether or not national reform strategies are contributing to better policies and services. The study covers nine national jurisdictions and the UK is in the second phase of the 3-stage programme. Professor Joyce Liddle is leading the UK contribution and Pete and Martin are helping with the UK part of the survey.

  • Work stream 2

    Public assurance, financial sustainability and performance management regimes for public services.

    Between 2001 and 2010, a centralized system of performance management and strategic intervention for local government was developed in England which has been replaced by a self-regulated peer review system. Pete, Martin and Russ Glennon are investigating the performance of the alternative systems before and after 2010 both in England, and further afield.

    In March 2015, we were approached to help with a pre-general election briefing for the National Audit Office on value for money in locally delivered public services. This developed into a report for the NAO on the public assurance and value for money risks across the services provided by local authorities, the police, health, social care and fire and rescue services.

    Subsequently in 2016 the NAO have commissioned or invited further contributions from NBS to a number of their national studies including those on Fire and Rescue Services, Ambulance Services and on the Single Departmental Spending Plan system initiated in February 2016. An impact case study on public assurance is developing around this set of reports

  • Work stream 3

    The development of the Strategic State.

    Since 2014 this project has been investigating the performance improvement and infrastructural support arrangements for public services. It is focused around the membership of the Strategic Management SIG of the European Group for Public Management (led by Professors Paul Joyce and Anne Drumaux).

    The team have been investigating the use of the OECD’s concept of the Strategic State and alternative theoretical conceptions including Public Value and New Public Service Theory. The NAO report on the Single Departmental Spending Plan system utilised this conceptualisation.


  • Professor Ileana Steccolini of Newcastle University
  • Professor Iris Saliterer of Freiberg University.
  • Dr Enrico Guarini of University of Milano-Bicocca, Milan
  • Carmela Barbera of Bocconi School of Management, Milan
  • Professor Joyce Liddle of Aix-Marseilles
  • Professor Paul Joyce of Birmingham University
  • Accounting and Finance SIG International Research Society for Public Management.
  • Strategic Management SIG European Group Public Management
  • Public Management SIG British Academy of Management

Working with us

The project maintains close working relationships with associate members from both academia and from central and local government who regularly participate and contribute to the programmes activities.

Related staff

The project is keen to include colleagues (distinguished and new) who are interested in the programmes scholar activity, policy and practitioner dialogue either to enhance their teaching and learning or to promote and strengthen relations with practice as well as to participate in theoretical and applied research.

  • Dr Martin Jones
  • Peter Murphy
  • Russ Glennon
  • Associate Professor Laurence Ferry (Durham)
  • Professor Zoe Radnor of University of Leicester
  • Professor Claire Hannibal of University of Wolverhampton
  • Dr Nikola Bateman of Loughborough University
  • Dr Ian Hodgkinson of Loughborough University
  • Dr Jo Meehan of University of University of Liverpool
  • Professor Ileana Steccoloini of Newcastle University
  • Emeritus Professor Harry Barton
  • Professor Joyce Liddle of Aix-en-Marseilles Université


Journal Articles


Murphy, P. and Jones, M., 2016. Building the next model for intervention and turnaround in poorly performing local authorities in England. Local Government Studies, 42 (5), pp. 698-716.


Alcock, S., Greenhalgh, K., Taylor L. and Murphy, P.,   2015. Who pays for Gareth? Relying on Reservists: the UK Government's Strategic Defence and Security Review. The Journal of Finance and Management in Public Services.   The Journal of Finance and Management in Public Services, 14 (1).


Barton, H. (2014) Lean enforcement in the UK Police Service. Lean Management Journal Vol.18 (2)

Murphy, P., Greenhalgh, K. and Jones, M., 2014. Housing and council tax benefits administration in England: a long-term perspective on the performance of the local government delivery system. Local Government Studies, 40 (5), pp. 729-744.


Barton, H. 2013 Adapting to the Future: The application of new approaches to business process improvement: Initial findings from a study of five UK police forces. Public Money and Management Vol. 18 (3) pp.221-225.

Barton, H. and Valero-Silva, N. 2013. Policing in Partnership: a case study in crime prevention. International Journal of Public Sector Management Vol. 26 (7) pp. 543-553.

Book Chapters

Osbourne, S., Radnor, Z. and Glennon, R., 2016. Public management theory. In: C. ANSELL and J. TORFING, eds., Handbook on theories of governance. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, pp. 46-60.

Murphy, P., 2014. The development of the strategic state and the performance management of local authorities in England. In: P. Joyce and A. Drumaux, eds., Strategic management in public organizations: European practices and perspectives. Abingdon: Routledge, 2014, pp. 243-255.



Murphy, P., 2016. A briefing paper on the Governments Single Departmental Plans 2015-2020 prepared for the National Audit Office as part of the national study. Confidential report for NAO. Nottingham: Nottingham Trent University.

Rossiter, W., Bickerton, C., Canavan, R., Lawton, C. and Murphy, P., 2016. NET Phase Two local economic evaluation: report 2: impact evaluation findings: final report. Research report for Tramlink. Nottingham.


Ferry, L. and Murphy, P., 2015.  Financial sustainability, accountability and transparency across local public service bodies in England under austerity. Briefing note to Centre for Public Scrutiny (CfPS) Advisory Board.

Ferry, L. and Murphy, P., 2015.  Financial sustainability, accountability and transparency across local public service bodies in England under austerity. Report to National Audit Office (NAO).

Jones, M. and Murphy, P., 2015.  External validation of the Nottinghamshire County Council workforce mobilisation project. Nottingham: NTU.


Barbera, C., Jones, M., and Steccolini, I., 2014 Governmental financial resilience under austerity: the case of English local authorities. Chartered Institute of Management Accountants. London

Professional Journal and Newspaper Articles

Murphy, P. and Glennon, R., 2016.  The devil in the detail of Brexit starts to emerge. Public Sector Focus (6).

Murphy, P., 2016. If PCCs are to take over fire services, they need to prove these six things. The Guardian.

Murphy, P., 2016. The civil service must keep calm and carry on with Brexit – but can it? The Conversation.

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