International Encyclopedia of Public Policy and Administration - Vol. 2

By Jay M. Shafritz | Go to book overview

Coons, John William Clune III, and Stephen Sugarman, 1970 Private Wealth and Public Education. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press

Gold, Steven, David Smith, Stephen Lawton, and Andrea C. Hyary , 1992. Public School Finance Programs of the United States and Canada, 1990-91. Albany, NY: The Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government

Hanushek, Eric, 1986. "The Economics of Schooling: Production and Efficiency in Public Schools". Journal of Economic Literature 24 (September) 1141-1177

Ladd, Helen and John Yinger, 1991. America's Ailing Cities: Fiscal Health and the Design of Urban Policy. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press

Monk, David, 1990. Educational Finance: An Economic Approach New York: McGraw-Hill Publishing Company

Odden, Allan and Lawrence Picus, 1992. School Finance: A Policy Perspective. New York: McGraw-Hill

San Antonio Independent School System v. Rodriquez, 1973. 411 U.S. 1

Serrano v. Priest, 1971. 487 P2d 1241

Strayer, George and Robert Haig, 1923. The Financing of Education in the State of New York. New York: McMillan.

EFFECTIVENESS. The assessment of policy or program outcomes against stated goals or objectives.

Effectiveness, either singly or in association mainly with efficiency, has long been a goal of public management. Under the traditional model of public administration, effectiveness was understood to refer to the achievement of formal goals, in the sense getting "the right things done" ( Drucker 1967). As public management has undergone a major reform process, or as some would have it a reinvention, in the U.S., the UK, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and elsewhere in the 1980s and 1990s, effectiveness has become increasingly associated with a focus upon the quality of outcomes ( Pollitt 1993).

In this regard, effectiveness is one of a number of performance criteria-which include efficiency and economy-applied to public management. Of these, effectiveness-with its emphasis on the quality of outcomes and links to performance measurement and performance monitoring-is now the preeminent yardstick by which public management is judged. However, it is far more difficult to assess the effectiveness of an agency or one of its programs than it is its economy or efficiency. The chief reason is that effectiveness is essentially a qualitative judgment, whereas efficiency and economy involve quantitative assessments.

Because qualitative judgements are seen as subjective, necessarily imprecise, and thus not always defensible in a political context, the trend within public management has been for effectiveness to be assessed on the basis of tangible or measurable outcomes against clearly articulated goals and performance indicators. As with other aspects of the new public management, this trend has its critics.

For example, it is argued that attempting to "measure" effectiveness is incompatible with the intangible nature of much of the work of government, such as human services (which are the predominant domain of government) and the provision of policy advice. To rely upon a statistics or data-based methodology in fields such as these may lead to misleading or even incorrect conclusions regarding effectiveness and to a decline in the overall quality of public management itself. This latter concern arises from the view that what is measured is what is inevitably valued and rewarded. What is not measured may be devalued and left to deteriorate or cease altogether, with potentially serious consequences for the effectiveness of a service.

Critics also claim that the pressure to use measurement-based techniques in public management has tended to blur in practice the distinction between efficiency and effectiveness. This is because performance indicators are focused in the main on measuring efficiency, which is the easier of the two to measure. The result, it is said, is that efficiency is measured at the expense of effectiveness and that fundamental issues relating to effectiveness have been marginalized ( Pollitt 1993).

Thus, although efficiency and effectiveness are by no means mutually exclusive, they are not always compatible. As Drucker ( 1988) has observed, "even the most efficient business cannot survive, let alone succeed, if it is efficient at doing the wrong things, that is, if it lacks effectiveness" (p. 44).

DEIRDRE O'NEILL


BIBLIOGRAPHY

Drucker, Peter, 1967. The Effective Executive. London, UK: Heinemann.

--, 1988. Management. Rev. ed. Oxford, UK: ButterworthHeinemann.

Pollitt, Christopher, 1993. Managerialism and the Public Services. 2d ed. Oxford, UK: Blackwell.

EFFICIENCY. The measurement of the inputs, or resources, required to produce, or achieve, a unit of output.

Under the traditional model of public managementwhich melded the key recommendations of the British Northcote-Trevelyan Report( 1854) with the principles of bureaucratic organization espoused by the German sociologist and economist Max Weber and the U.S. political scientist Woodrow Wilson's theory of the dichotomy of policy and administration in government-efficiency was viewed narrowly in terms of an acceptable level of administrative performance. A public agency that in a technical sense operated smoothly, made few if any errors (thus minimizing political flak or fallout), and kept within its budgetary limits was considered to be a model of efficiency.

However, in the second half of the twentieth century the traditional model of public management has been consistently criticized on the grounds of unacceptably low levels of efficiency. According to these critiques, spending by

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International Encyclopedia of Public Policy and Administration - Vol. 2
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