Assessing Governmental Performance: An Analytical Framework

Assessing Governmental Performance: An Analytical Framework

Assessing Governmental Performance: An Analytical Framework

Assessing Governmental Performance: An Analytical Framework

Synopsis

This study provides an analytical framework, a theory of knowledge that identifies the kinds of structures and processes required for directing human action and the criteria for evaluating them. Meehan applies his theories empirically to the real world and provides normative approaches for his generalizations about how to critique governmental actions and to improve them.

Excerpt

The primary purpose that this volume is meant to fulfill can be summarized in the following way: the aim is to articulate an analytic apparatus, a theory of knowledge, that is adequate both for assessing or evaluating and for suggesting concrete ways of improving governmental (or individual) performance, and to explore the major implications of, and impediments to, accepting and applying the theory to collective affairs. Because human performance cannot be assessed except by reference to purposes sought, the analytic apparatus must identify a set of generalized purposes that encompasses most if not all of the particular purposes sought through collective actions. To do so, one overriding purpose is first assumed and justified; analysis can then generate the second-order purposes that are prerequisite to fulfilling it. The overall purpose used as a point of departure here is simply to maintain and improve the conditions of life of some human population. Three second-order purposes are demonstrably necessary (though not necessarily sufficient) for success: to anticipate or predict events, to produce specified outcomes by acting in an appropriate way, and to choose among alternative available actions. An adequate theory of knowledge must therefore show the kind of intellectual apparatus required to fulfill these basic requirements.

The analytic apparatus is applied by identifying within its boundaries the real-world purpose sought in any particular case; the results of the analysis, the statement of necessary and/or sufficient conditions for achieving the purpose sought, can then be transferred to the real-world . . .

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