MPA Major Research Papers

Date of Award


Degree Type

Major Research Paper

Degree Name

Master of Public Administration


Political Science


Carol Agocs

Geographical Areas



This research report focuses on the use of strategic planning and management practices in mid-sized municipalities in Ontario. The paper analyzes the adoption of strategic plans as well as the implementation of strategic management practices to determine what factors contribute to successful adoption and implementation of strategic plans. Bryson (2010) indicated that “significant improvements in strategic planning practice will come when ‘it’ is widely understood in its richness as a managerial practice or set of practices – and not as some kind of fairly rigid recipe for producing standardized objects called strategic plans that somehow are meant to implement themselves” (p. S259). The research design consisted of a multi-stage review of qualitative facts from public documents. The primary focus of the first-stage was a high-level review of municipal websites for each of the 142 Ontario municipalities with populations ranging from 10,000 to 500,000 to determine the extent to which formal, strategic plans have been implemented. The second-stage expanded the data collection on a smaller subset of municipalities from the first-stage to evaluate the implementation success of strategic management practices as well as explore the inclusion of prioritization in strategic planning and management processes. The research results found that there is a high percentage of local governments adopting strategic plans. The results also highlighted that there is a low percentage of municipalities linking strategic plans to strategic management practices. The research identified the following five factors that may contribute to higher levels of strategic planning adoption and strategic management implementation: stakeholder involvement, strategic plan components, prioritization of strategies, alignment of resource allocation, and evaluation processes.