Since the late 1990s, Switzerland has experienced a reform trend that had its conceptual roots based on the international debate about a "new public management." Although this concept was designed from an observer perspective to analyze the latest trends that occurred internationally, it became increasingly a normative "standard model" for the reforms in Switzerland, such as those in other countries like Norway (Vabo, 2000) or Germany (Loffler, 1997). In these countries, the analytical categories used by Hood and others (Hood, 1991; Pollitt, 1990) were turned into programs for necessary reforms. The Swiss reforms were labeled as "outcomebased public management" (Wirkungsorientierte Verwaltungsfuhrung "WOV") (Buschor, 1993; Rieder & Lehmann, 2002; Schedler, 2003), and the concept was designed from the start as a far-reaching reform of both the administrative and the political institutions.
The challenge to the managers of the reform projects, therefore, was not only to build new forms of control and new structures for public performance delivery of the administration, but also to include political institutions into the reform process (Steiner, 2000). Most prominently, reform activities focused on political executives (ministers) and parliaments through their most important committees (Rieder & Lehmann, 2002). The Swiss political system is different from those in champion countries of the new public management such as described in comparative studies (Borins, 2000; Kettl, 2000; Pollitt & Bouckaert, 1999; Thynne, 2003) in that it focuses on a stronger division of power between parliament and government. Thus, a particular reform agenda was developed by the project managers, which put emphasis on the parliament's functioning and cooperation with the government. The aim was to change processes and structures of parliaments' decision making in order to match them with the new regime of output and outcome control that was being introduced for the administration. In many cases, this developing work was under-taken jointly by project managers and specialized parliamentary committees ("reform committees"), led by their presidents.
The wide range of contextual arrangements that we experienced in our research, combined with seemingly obvious differences in success of the reform projects, led to our research questions: Which contextual factors influence the reform path of a parliament? What is the impact that can be observed? We expect our research findings to be a relevant contribution to theory in that these questions have not been dealt with in the course of typical "WoV" reforms internationally (Pollitt & Bouckaert, 1999). For practical use, future design of similar projects should be able to rely on our findings.
This article explores the reform process that took place in the implementation of "WoV" reforms in Swiss parliamentary committees. In particular, it asks in what form and with what contextual arrangement political institutions were included in this process. We focus our research on understanding the context and process of change within the legislative bodies (parliaments and their committees) of four cantons and two larger cities, taking into account the different qualities of their interaction with the government and external experts, and their diverse change strategies. The time period under observation is in each case the initial phase of the projects, the first five to eight years. In all these cases, parliamentary committees were actively involved in the reforms, however, in differing ways.
Assessing the Context
In most of the countries that led the reform process internationally, the role of political bodies is different to Switzerland. Reforms in New Zealand (Boston, Martin, & Walsh, 1996; Pallot, 1994) were based on a minister "buying" outputs from the administration, whereas the parliament had no particular role in this …