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The Nature of Strategy in the Public Sector

14 April 2010




Throughout the public sector, people are continually developing various strategies and plans to help focus effort and resources on what is important. Despite the ubiquitous nature of these types of documents, little guidance is available on how to approach the task of formulating strategy in the public sector. Managers often have to ‘muddle through’ or do ‘what seemed to work last time’. This can be problematic, particularly when the going starts to get tough! Strategy consultants can help. Yet they typically offer variations on a single approach, which, when applied out of context, usually leave people dissatisfied with the result.

This paper seeks to give public sector managers a better sense of how to approach strategic planning by:

  1. suggesting the three defining characteristics of public sector strategy
  2. offering a framework that outlines the process of crafting a strategy, winning support for it, and measuring its success
  3. describing the relationship between strategy formulation and other processes that are designed to promote innovation.

These Occasional Papers are jointly published by ANZSOG and the (former) Victorian State Services Authority.

Suggested citation

Petris, S. (2010). The Nature of Strategy in the Public Sector. SSA/ANZSOG Occasional Paper, 7. Melbourne: ANZSOG.


Authors: Stephen Petris
Published Date: 14 April 2010

Case study

Download the case study: petris_2010-ssa-occ-paper-7 (PDF 257 KB)