Conferences, Proceedings of the 3rd National Local Government Research Forum

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Comparisons are odious: a practitioner's view of why comparing councils is a flawed concept
Fran Flavel

Last modified: 2013-10-23


Recent literature related to aspects of local government has referred extensively to various examples across all states of Australia as well as the United Kingdom and New Zealand, as well as others. Such exploration of ideas (working or not working) elsewhere in the world is to be commended, provided it remains just that – a search for innovation to inform the enhancement of local government. However if it moves into attempts to identify best practice or into benchmarking best practice, such exercises become problematic, principally because of jurisdictional differences, which themselves have been born of a different culture in a different time and with different political and social agenda. This paper demonstrates how benchmarking should be used only in specific cases. The paper also explores the practice of comparing councils and uses a case study to affirm the proposition that comparisons are ‘odious’.

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