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Article

Performance Management in Public Administration  

Johabed G. Olvera and Claudia N. Avellaneda

As one of the reforms supported by the New Public Management movement, Performance Management Systems (PMSs) have been implemented worldwide, across various policy areas and different levels of government. PMSs require public organizations to establish clear goals, measure indicators of these purposes, report this information, and, ultimately, link this information with strategic decisions aimed at improving agencies’ performances. Therefore, the components of any PMS include: (1) strategic planning; (2) data collection and analysis (performance measurement); and (3) data utilization for decision-making (performance management). However, the degree of adoption and implementation of PMS components varies across both countries and levels of government. Therefore, in understanding the role of PMSs in public administration, it is important to recognize that the drivers explaining the adoption of PMS components may differ from those explaining their implementation. Although the goal of any PMS is to boost government performance, the existent empirical evidence assessing PMS impact on organizational performance reports mixed results, and suggests that the implementation of PMSs may generate some unintended consequences. Moreover, while worldwide there is a steady increase in the adoption of performance metrics, the same cannot be said about the use of these metrics in decision-making or performance management. Research on the drivers of adoption and implementation of PMSs in developing countries is still lacking.

Article

High-Performance Government  

Janine O'Flynn

Governments have always been interested in performance and how to improve it, and this topic has drawn considerable attention from scholars and practitioners. Considerable efforts go into addressing the performance puzzle with major programs of reform, for example, developed to drive performance improvement. Since the 2000s, the notion of high-performance government has developed to express these aspirations. Rooted in management literature that has focused mostly on high-performance organizations, this perspective focuses on sustained superior performance that is driven by specific high-performance characteristics. As this idea migrated to the public sector, distinctly discursive and conceptual approaches have developed; both approaches, however, remain underdeveloped. Future research in this area should focus on better defining the key components and ensuring that important aspects of high performance are incorporated into models.

Article

Equivalency Framing in Political Decision Making  

Asmus Olsen

Politics is increasingly reliant on numerical descriptions of the world. Numbers are relied upon for their ability to communicate some unambiguous facts of life. Equivalence frames are equivalent descriptions of the same quantity and they help us understand how different ways of presenting the objectively same piece of numerical information affect political behavior. Equivalence framing effects denote that these different presentation of the fundamentally same fact have very profound effects on preferences. However, most research in political behavior have relied on other forms of framing and largely regarded equivalence framing as a well-defined concept without much relevance to real-world politics. The standard form of equivalence framing changes the valence of a label which describes the same numerical fact. This form of negative and positive framing of the same metric will often elicit very different responses for the recipient of the information. A less studied type of equivalence framing in political behavior manipulates the same numerical fact but with a different metric or scale. These have often not been explicitly recognized as equivalence frames but are clearly an important example in a world of numbers. As for valence manipulation, changing the metric can also have profound effects. Moving forward studies of equivalence framing must both gain a better descriptive understanding of the actual use and abuse of equivalence frames in observational setting and at the same time aim to understand the causal properties of equivalence frames in the field—outside the controlled environment of the survey or lab where they most often are studied.

Article

Comparative Political Regimes: Consensus and Majoritarian Democracy  

Matthijs Bogaards

Ever since Aristotle, the comparative study of political regimes and their performance has relied on classifications and typologies. The study of democracy today has been influenced heavily by Arend Lijphart’s typology of consensus versus majoritarian democracy. Scholars have applied it to more than 100 countries and sought to demonstrate its impact on no less than 70 dependent variables. This paper summarizes our knowledge about the origins, functioning, and consequences of two basic types of democracy: those that concentrate power and those that share and divide power. In doing so, it will review the experience of established democracies and question the applicability of received wisdom to new democracies.

Article

Transparency in Public Administration  

Tero Erkkilä

Transparency is one of the keywords of contemporary governance. It is often associated with democratic accountability, but it also carries connotations of market efficiency. Though transparency is a key concept for economics and politics, its ideational roots lie in access to government information. Transparency holds promises for increased democratization and economic performance, but these may also stand in contradiction. Coinciding with the rise of transparency as a token of responsible governance, we have witnessed rapid global diffusion of information access laws. In debates on public accountability, transparency appears as an element of both deliberation and performance, which is peculiar as these are often seen as complementary types of accountability. Moreover, increased transparency is often assumed to lead to increased citizen trust in government, but the relation of trust and transparency is more complex. Transparency also implies access to public information, which can consist of various types of documents and registries. Through digitalization, public information has become a pressing topic of interest, including as raw material for a knowledge-based economy. Public administration also manages significant amounts of personal data of citizens, raising additional concerns for privacy. While transparency and privacy are not antonyms, there is a trade-off between them. Nevertheless, transparency also appears as a means for holding government accountable for its use of registry data. Finally, transparency has become a measured element of governance indicators that are themselves an instance of transparency. As a key concept of public administration, transparency is relevant for both democracy and efficiency of governance, but it is ambiguous and even paradoxical by nature.

Article

Agencification in Public Administration  

Koen Verhoest, Sandra van Thiel, and Steven F. De Vadder

Agencification is the creation of semi-autonomous agencies: organizations charged with public tasks like policy implementation, regulation, and public service delivery, operating at arm’s length from the government. Although not a new development, agencification became very popular from the 1980s on as part of the New Public Management reforms. Three types of agencies can be distinguished, based predominantly on their formal legal features. Type 1 agencies have some managerial autonomy but do not have their own legal identity separate from the state or their parent ministry. Type 2 agencies are organizations and bodies with managerial autonomy that have their own legal identity separate from the state or their parent ministry. Type 3 organizations have their own legal identity vested in, and defined by, private law and are established by, or on behalf of, the government in the form of a private law corporation, company, or a foundation, but they are predominantly controlled by government and are at least partially involved in executing public tasks. Specific characteristics of agencies differ between countries and findings show few systematic patterns: similar tasks are charged to different types of agencies. A crucial element in the functioning of agencies is the formal and de facto interplay of autonomy and control, and how this can be explained in a static and dynamic way. Studies about agencification list three main categories of its effects: economic, organizational, and political effects. However, there is still a lot that needs to be studied about agencification, its forms, and its effects.

Article

Federalism and Policy Implementation  

Kenneth Wiltshire

Implementing public policies in federations involves clashes of concept and practice. In its design, federalism is not particularly conducive to the formulation and implementation of public policy because the acclaimed strengths of a federal form of government, including diversity, fragmentation of power and sovereignty, and responsiveness to regional and cultural interests, all serve to make the introduction of national policies complex and challenging. This is especially the case regarding the implementation phase of policies which tends to be a most difficult task given the layers and negotiating steps through which policies must pass before being delivered to clients. Success in implementing public policies in federations requires a mixture of strategies that can range from coercion to collaboration and cooperation. Achieving performance with accountability throughout this process has proven difficult in most federations. Moreover most of the literature has avoided the client perspective, in particular whether citizens really care about the vagaries of federal arrangements as they simply want to see the programs that affect their daily lives delivered efficiently, effectively, and accountably.

Article

The Structure and Performance of African Electoral Commissions  

Jørgen Elklit

Electoral commissions are organizations responsible for the conduct of elections and referendums. Their performance level is of paramount importance for the development of electoral integrity and democracy on the continent. In Africa, electoral commissions largely belong to what is usually termed the independent model of electoral management, i.e., the electoral commissions are formally independent from the executive and other government structures. However, there are also examples of the so-called governmental model, where the election-conducting agencies are embedded in the executive, as well as the mixed model, where one finds a country-specific mixture of the two other elements. It has become commonplace to use the generic term election management bodies (EMBs) to cover all three models, as they to a very considerable degree have the same functions and responsibilities in relation to election management. African electoral commissions belonging to the independent model are a clear majority of electoral commissions on the continent and share important organizational features, i.e., a small policy-deciding commission, often filled with non-election experts, and a policy-implementing secretariat structured according to the tasks to be performed by the organization. However, the formal and structural similarities cover different realities on the ground, as African electoral commissions differ enormously in actual autonomy and performance. The usefulness of the traditional categorization of EMBs according to their formal independence and present data is unclear in light of the performance level of at least some African electoral commissions. African electoral commissions are assessed very differently by politicians, voters, and election observers.

Article

The United Nations and the European Union  

Carla Monteleone

The European Union (EU) and the United Nations (UN) are expressions of a rules-based global order. The EU has enshrined support to the UN in its security strategies, and its priorities indicate an engagement in a wide range of UN programs and activities to maintain the rules-based order and adapt it to face internal and external challenges. The EU and its member states are the largest contributors to the UN budget. Following the adoption of the Lisbon treaty, the EU has increased its representation at the UN, gaining enhanced observer status in the General Assembly. However, because of the intergovernmental nature of the forum, only its member states have the right to vote. This has led scholars to investigate the actorness of the EU at the UN through the analysis of the voting cohesion of EU member states in the General Assembly. Less attention has been paid to the behavior of EU member states in the Security Council. Existing scholarship has tended to analyze how the EU acts within the UN more than inter-organizational cooperation. However, the contribution of the EU and its member states to UN activities in the area of peace and security maintenance is particularly relevant and is a reminder that inter-organizational cooperation deserve greater attention than the one it has received so far.