INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF PUBLIC SECTOR MANAGEMENT, vol.34, no.5, pp.546-567, 2021 (ESCI)
Purpose This study aims to find out whether strategic plans contribute to change by exploring to what extent environmental (external and internal) perceptions of the public institutions changed in consecutive plans. Design/methodology/approach The research is an explorative case study of three metropolitan municipalities in Turkey: Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir, which represent about one-third of population of the country. In this context, three consecutive strategic plans of metropolitan municipalities in question were examined based on a content analysis using a guideline developed by the author. Findings The findings reveal that the use of strategic plans as a guide is indispensable. The study argues that consecutive strategic plans of metropolitan municipalities are both conducive to change and are useful tools for the effectiveness of the strategy. Research limitations/implications While this study analyses the strategic plans regardless of considering the extent to which the institutions have achieved their desired goals, it recommends that the "strategic plans" should not only be used as rituals but also as a guide to change. Practical implications The study emphasizes the fact that strategic plans provide managers with the necessary tools to perform an analysis that gives insight into the extent to which they are able to manage the change when they compare their strategic plans and put them into practice in the consecutive periods. Originality/value This study contributes to the field by questioning the basis of criticisms of strategic planning in the context of public sector and shows how strategic plans play a role in tracing the change in institutions.