Managing Performance in the Public Sector

Managing Performance in the Public Sector

Managing Performance in the Public Sector

Managing Performance in the Public Sector


Topical and taking a bold stance in the contentious debate surrounding performance in the public sector, this new edition shows readers how performance thinking has a substantial impact on the management of public organizations.

Thoroughly revised and updated, this highly successful text, written by an experienced academic and practitioner is packed full with a wealth of new features. These include:

  • more examples and cases, from a variety of different sectors, including, hospitals, courts, school and universities
  • a whole new chapter on the dynamics of performance management; answering the questions - how do PM systems evolve? Which effects will dominate in the long run?
  • many extra recommendations for making PM attractive for managers.

An informed and up-to-date analysis of this subject, this is an essential text for all those studying, both at undergraduate and postgraduate level, performance management in the public sector.


In recent years, management techniques from the private sector have penetrated deep into professional public sector organizations such as hospitals, universities, courts and schools. One of these techniques is performance management. the idea is that these professional organizations, like companies, provide products and services and that their performance – their output – can be measured. a court can be assessed by the number of judgements it passes, a police force by the number of fixed penalty notices it issues and scientists by the number of publications in scientific journals. a professional organization that manages to define its products can demonstrate its performance, which may improve its effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy.

A fruitless debate: public profession versus accountability

It is remarkable that positions are easily taken in the debate about performance measurement in the public sector. On the one hand, there is the view that performance measurement does not do any justice to the nature of the activities performed by professional organizations. Professional organizations are organizations that provide public services. These public services are multiple-value ones (i.e. they have to take several values into account) and are rendered in co-production (in cooperation with third parties). a school must make its pupils perform well, but must also have a good educational climate (multiple value); its pupils’ performance depends on the school’s effort, but also on the extent to which pupils are stimulated at home (co-production). a court must pass judgement as soon as possible, but its judgement must be well-considered (multiple value); a court can hardly influence the number of cases it has to deal with and the behaviour of the litigating parties (cooperation). Performance measurement reduces this complexity to one single dimension.

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