European Group for Organizational Studies colloquium edition:24th location:Amsterdam date:10-12 July 2008
According to NPM, more effective and efficient public services can be delivered if public sector organizations are granted more managerial autonomy and if they use various (private sector) management techniques. To date, only very limited attention has been paid to the link between managerial autonomy and the use of management techniques. With this study, we seek to fill this gap in the extensive NPM literature by examining the extent to which managerial autonomy has an effect on the use of management techniques, thereby focusing on quality management techniques. In general, we try to shed light on the determinants of the use of quality management techniques. Therefore, besides managerial autonomy we also look at other factors that might affect the use of quality management techniques e.g. result control, legal statute, organizational size, organizational culture.
The results of two surveys – being conducted in 124 Flemish public sector organizations – indicated that managerial autonomy is positively related to the use of quality management techniques: the higher the level of managerial autonomy, the larger the extent to which quality management techniques are used. Also result control is positively associated with the use of quality management techniques. No significant differences were found in the extent to which quality management techniques were used among small and large organizations. The relationship between managerial autonomy, result control and the use of quality management techniques was not as clear-cut as expected: the organization’s legal statute and some organizational cultural aspects (emphasis on innovation, valuing customers) act as mediators in this relationship. Overall, the results of this study imply that one should be careful in stating that managerial autonomy, result control directly lead to a better service delivery (by e.g. using quality management techniques) as other factors seem to intervene in the autonomy – performance link.