Strategies for public service turnaround: Lessons from the private sector?

George A. Boyne*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

78 Citations (Scopus)


National policy makers and local service managers are striving to identify strategies to improve the performance of failing public organizations. However, little academic research on public service turnaround is available to inform their efforts. By contrast, substantial work has been conducted on the reversal of decline in the private sector. A model of the turnaround process is developed from this literature, and evidence on the effectiveness of different turn-around strategies is reviewed. The private sector evidence suggests that recovery from failure is associated with strategies of retrenchment, repositioning, and reorganization. The potential feasibility and impact of these strategies in the public sector is evaluated, and major research questions on public service turnaround are identified.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)365-388
Number of pages24
JournalAdministration and Society
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2006


  • Organizational turnaround
  • Pubic service strategies
  • Public and private sectors


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