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Executive Summary: What is the extent of senior management turnover across English local authorities, and why is it higher in some authorities than others? What are the external and internal influences on managerial succession? We probe these questions by comparing variation in senior management turnover between authorities. We find that high environmental munificence and consistently high performance over time are quite strongly associated with relatively low senior management turnover. Authorities that performed well in all the years covered by our study also had lower numbers of chief executive successions than other authorities. These findings are consistent with the view that external circumstances and organizational achievements influence executive succession in local government. While these findings are preliminary, they hint that some local authorities are likely to need to make special efforts to recruit and retain good managers. These authorities face adverse environments (such as deprived communities with diverse and complex needs) and which are perceived by external stakeholders as performing poorly. At the opposite end of the scale, there might be a danger that top team turnover may be too low in organizations that face more tractable circumstances and have been judged as performing well. Further research on these issues is clearly required to establish the patterns of turnover that are most appropriate for organizations in different circumstances.

Sample finding: There is a clear statistical relationship between our indicator of the lack of environmental munificence, the multiple deprivation index, and the senior management team replacement rate. Higher levels of deprivation are consistently related to higher levels of seniormanagement turnover.

Executive Succession in English Local Government (full text pdf)
George A. Boyne, Oliver James, Peter John and Nicolai Petrovsky
October 2008, Public Money & Management, Vol 28(5) pp: 267-274  .

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