Academic journal article Academy of Accounting and Financial Studies Journal

Toward a Better Understanding of the Contingent Determinants Related to the Performance of the Cameroonian Municipal Public Services

Academic journal article Academy of Accounting and Financial Studies Journal

Toward a Better Understanding of the Contingent Determinants Related to the Performance of the Cameroonian Municipal Public Services

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Performance measurement systems have considerably improved in the last few years in the areas of management control. Most organizations today must face new constraints and are increasingly asked to justify their actions depending on the public opinions, whether it concerns quality, fairness, cost transparency, or effectiveness regarding the objectives fixed to them (Alecian & Foucher, 1994). Local communities cannot avoid this obligation to legitimize their actions since the public entity that conferred such a service for such a long time no longer exists; they must now demonstrate the effectiveness of the public services they provide. Thus, the communities' structure must now also include a means of reacting to the public (the end-users) demands. Performance measurement systems of the municipal public services therefore aim to rehabilitate local public services which are now facing a crisis of legitimacy and identity. It seems that Cameroonian people have more and more requirements. They see themselves as customers waiting on line for a service, whether of a civil matter or a technical one. In addition, the social and urban consequences in the current politico-economic context will result in the emergence of new needs such as garbage removal, supplying potable water, and installing public lighting, at which the local communities will have to answer. Finally, Cameroonian people are increasingly advocating the reject of mediocre public services and they are more and more demanding about the quality of the public funds usage.

Without entering into a much detailed analysis of the difficulties faced by Cameroonian municipalities, a certain number of questions underlie our problematic: we must question the nature of the measurement systems used for assessing the performance of the municipal public services in Cameroon. In other words, we stress on the two following questions. Do the measures taken by Cameroonian authorities, such as the new decentralization plan, the balancing of public finances, as well as the implementation of a sector-based accounting plan, achieve the performance expected by the municipalities? Are there some factors likely to influence the performance of the municipal public services of the Cameroonian municipalities? The objective of the present paper is to bring some answers to these questions. It is twofold: first, this paper brings a contribution to a better understanding of the contingent determinants related to the performance of the municipal public services; and second, it aims to identify the factors likely to influence the performance of the municipal public services.

The paper is structured as follows. In the first part of the paper, we present the performance measurement systems through structural contingency factors and we formulate the research hypotheses to be tested. In the second part, we describe the research methodology. And, in the last part, we present and discuss the main results got from a principal component analysis (PCA) and a multiple linear regression.

SPECIFICITIES OF THE PERFORMANCE OF THE MUNICIPAL PUBLIC SERVICES

Studies conducted on performance indicators in municipal offices in the United States show that such indicators are not created solely in themselves but in conjunction with their environment, such as contributions by elected officials, citizens, public servants, partners, and managers. With external support, local collectives complete output measurements along with outcome measurements (Wang & Berman, 2001). The involvement of outside strengths in establishing the indicators is necessary due to the complexity of local initiatives and the importance of end-user judgments in the measurement of local performance. The performance measurement system in local communities is not limited to simply providing managerial information, but it also includes informing end-users on the performance of the local entities. …

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