Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, Inc.
Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory vol:16 issue:1 pages:25-44
This article reports a study of performance management practices in four functions across four European Union member states (Finland, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the United Kingdom). The focus is on how and to what extent performance indicators influenced the top management of the agencies concerned and the degree to which performance data were used by ministries as steering instruments. The research uses a historical institutionalist perspective combined with a model that identifies primary task characteristics as a source of significant variation. Thus the design explores both the influence of task characteristics (through contrasts among the four different functions) and embedded national system characteristics (through contrasts among the four countries). I show that both primary task characteristics and national system characteristics had some of the theoretically predicted effects on the management regimes. Equally, however, certain general tendencies embraced all countries and most functions. These include, first, the incremental growth of more sophisticated performance indicator systems and, second, the feebleness of ministries in developing performance-based strategic steering.