We (Sandra Groeneveld, a new PhD student, and I) are about to start a project on ‘Explaining cutback management strategies in public sector organisations: change leadership in times of crisis’. During the 1980s budgetary crisis public sector organisations have mainly relied on private sector cutback management strategies. Such private sector approaches are now increasingly seen as inappropriate in a public environment. This project assesses how the publicness of organisations affects the choice and implementation of cutback management strategies. It first maps strategies public managers use to implement cutbacks in public sector organisations. A comparative case study design is then used to examine the effect of publicness on strategy choice and implementation, looking at individual-level and organisational-level characteristics. Findings contribute to theory development in cutback management in public organisations. The project is funded by the Dutch Research Council’s Research Talent Scheme (NWO Onderzoekstalent) that provides PhD brusaries for talented Research Master students.