Legitimating Change in the Public Sector: The Introduction of (Rational?) Accounting Practices in the United Kingdom, Italy and Austria

Noel Hyndman, Mariannunziata Liguori, Renate E. Meyer, Tobias Polzer, Silvia Rota, Johann Seiwald, Ileana Steccolini

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


This paper explores the deployment of rhetorical legitimation strategies during public-sector accounting reforms by investigating how organizational actors justify related changes in the central governments of the United Kingdom (UK), Italy and Austria. The study shows that changes are largely legitimated (and rarely delegitimated) by key actors, with authorization strategies dominating. Country differences and actors’ professional backgrounds also impact upon the use of legitimation strategies, with those from an accounting background and working in the UK being more likely to justify change in terms of rationalization and normalization. Italian and Austrian actors more frequently resort to authorization strategies to explain accounting change.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPublic Management Review
Issue number9
Pages (from-to)1374-1399
Number of pages26
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2018

Bibliographical note

Published online: 12 Oct 2017


  • Legitimation strategies
  • Accounting change
  • Organizational change
  • Central government

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