Governance, leadership and risk in a contemporary total place approach to public service delivery in Scotland

Karlsson, P. S. , Asenova, D. and Valkama, P. (2015) Governance, leadership and risk in a contemporary total place approach to public service delivery in Scotland. International Research Society for Public Management Conference 2015, Birmingham, United Kingdom, 30 Mar - 01 Apr 2015.

Full text not currently available from Enlighten.

Publisher's URL:


Total Place was a policy initiative that was launched by the Labour government in 2009, with 13 pilot programmes across England looking at how public money is spent in a local area and how this could be done more efficiently. Under this initiative local services are delivered based on a geographic place as opposed to the traditional service provision or functional basis. Thus, local budgets can be pooled together to avoid service duplication. This paper discusses the approach taken by one Scottish council in the use of total place based mechanisms. The paper focuses on the background and the rationale of the total place approach. Documentary analysis and interviews have been used to describe the total place approach. Focusing on the challenges that have been identified in the total place initiative related to governance, accountability and leadership issues, the research analyses the council’s approach to risk governance. The rationale of the case study council to undertake their total place pilots was the realisation that it was spending a lot of money on vulnerable people without actually improving their quality of life; instead the council was often adding further problems, leading to increased social risk. The key risk to these vulnerable individuals was not related to a lack of resources but due to lack of coordination of the existing resources. Thus, by delivering these same services in partnership and by taking a total place approach to the service delivery, the social risks to individuals and communities could be reduced, and the cost of delivering services could be mitigated. While the total place initiative started as a pilot, the challenge in the future will be how to mainstream this approach. If the council chooses this route for their future service delivery, the risk implications should be sufficiently considered and dealt with in an appropriate manner at an early stage. The case study analysis based on: strategic and operational documents of the total place initiative in the Scottish council; and interviews with council representatives revealed that risk is not sufficiently reflected in the decision making process. Therefore, these findings suggest that there may be systematic deficiencies in the way that place based approaches are implemented with more research needing done in this area.

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Karlsson-Brown, Dr Paula
Authors: Karlsson, P. S., Asenova, D., and Valkama, P.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > Adam Smith Business School > Management
Related URLs:

University Staff: Request a correction | Enlighten Editors: Update this record