This study aims to shed light on how external and internal variables affect the anticipatory and coping ability of local governments in the management of exogenous crises. The case is interpreted through the lens of organizational resilience theory through the analysis of the actions taken by the administrators of the Milan City Council to anticipate and counteract periods of crisis due to soaring bread and flour prices in the period 1860-1898.The analysis is based on archival research using minutes of the City Council meetings and by triangulating data with statistics and literature as secondary sources. Comparison is also carried out between actions taken by other municipalities in the period analysed and as a response to the current inflation crisis in Europe. Findings show how local government’s coping decisions in the short term may be in contrast with decisions aimed at maintaining the organization’s financial condition in the long run and have important consequences on the capacity to prevent future social crises. The City Council abolished the excise duty on bread only after the dramatic riots of 1898. Riots occurred in the years before were underestimated by city councilors as they only tried to develop a better knowledge of the external environment; the political vision and priorities substantially procrastinated the decision to abolish the duties but linked them to the future tax reform. These findings are in line with recent delays occurred in Europe for the set-up of a price cap on the gas market, despite the current socio-political context is profoundly different from that of the period under consideration. The study contributes to the literature on accounting by exploring the factors that influence the use of financial and non-financial information during social crises and affect organizational resilience. From a practitioner’s point of view, it highlights how the City of Milan developed an early system of regulatory cost accounting to support bread price regulation.
KEYWORDS: organisational resilience, accounting history, local government
Guarini E., Magli F., Martinelli M.R.G. (2023). Il Comune di Milano e la gestione delle crisi del “caro pane”: un’analisi longitudinale 1860 - 1898, RIREA, 1, 93-119. DOI: 10.17408/RIREAEGFMMRGM12342023