Retiring the Golden Hammer: Identifying Situational Practices for Public Strategy Implementation


  • David Mitchell University of Central Florida
  • David Z. Kanaan San Diego State University-Imperial Valley
  • Sarah Stoeckel City of Titusville, Florida
  • Suzette M. Myser University of Central Florida



Strategic Management, Implementation, Contingency, Process, Local Government


While scholars and practitioners increasingly embrace contingent approaches to public strategic management, they have done so tepidly. In an increasingly perilous and turbulent governing environment, both groups must move past time-honored tools and concepts and embrace the complexity inherent to the strategy implementation process. In response, this article proposes a contingent, micro-organizational process model of public strategy implementation based on Whittington’s (2017) framework of strategy as a practice and a process. Through regression analysis of 205 strategic initiatives from 43 U.S. municipalities, the study concludes that the relationships between implementation practices and proximate outcomes do indeed vary over time and across context, offering a specific list of recommended practices tailored to the intersections of implementation phase and initiative type. Public strategy implementation scholars can best aid practitioners by rejecting strategic reductivism and embracing micro-organizational implementation activity surrounding a strategic initiative, in all of its temporal and contextual splendor.

Author Biographies

David Mitchell, University of Central Florida

David Mitchell is an Assistant Professor of Public Administration at the University of Central Florida. His research interests include the implementation of municipal strategic initiatives, the efficacy of priority-based budgeting systems, and accountability within public management networks. He is a past chair of the ASPA Section on Public Performance and Management. His related work has been published in Public Administration Review, Public Management Review, Public Administration, Public Budgeting and Finance, Public Performance and Management Review, International Journal of Public Administration, Public Administration Quarterly, Teaching Public Administration, Journal of Emergency Management, Governance and Management Review, and State and Local Government Review.

David Z. Kanaan, San Diego State University-Imperial Valley

David Z. Kanaan is an Assistant Professor of Public Administration in the School of Public Affairs at San Diego State University and Managing Editor of Public Administration Review. Dr. Kanaan serves as Chair of the Division of Professional Studies at San Diego State University, Imperial Valley. His research interests include public education policy, local economic development policy, public corruption, and state-level policy effectiveness.

Sarah Stoeckel, City of Titusville, Florida

Sarah Stoeckel serves as a Council Member for the City of Titusville, Florida. She is also an instructor of public administration and organizational management at Eastern Florida State College, and recently received her Ph.D. in Public Affairs from the University of Central Florida. Her research interests include municipal initiatives related to social media, transparency, participation, and collaboration. She currently conducts webinars and presentations in conjunction with the International City/County Management Association.

Suzette M. Myser, University of Central Florida

Suzette M. Myser is an Assistant Professor of Public Administration at the University of Central Florida. Her research focuses on budgeting and financial management of nonprofit organizations and nonprofit advocacy.






Research Articles