Can We Put Numbers on Municipal Performance and Sustainability? A New Strategic Paradigm

  • Paulo Caldas University of New England, School of Business
  • Brian Dollery University of New England
  • Rui Cunha Marques Instituto Superior Tecnico
Keywords: community sustainability, council sustainability index, decentralisation, financial sustainability, Portugese local government, strategic management


This paper considers “measuring what matters” in local government and applies a Council Sustainability Index (CSI) to all 308 Portuguese municipalities. Using a Multi-criteria Decision Analysis Methodology (MCDA), an additive evaluation model is applied which aggregates 25 indicators across four dimensions to assess Portuguese local government sustainability. A critical evaluation of performance is provided along with a financial sustainability analysis and governance evaluation, which identifies the chief factors which explain different councils’ performance. We show that this approach sheds new light on Portuguese local government evaluation. CSI breaks new ground and it is applicable mutatis mutandis to most local government systems worldwide.


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