Public Organization Review

, Volume 18, Issue 4, pp 525–542 | Cite as

The Sustainability Assumption in Performance Management Reforms: Revisiting the Patterns of Implementation

  • Antoine Genest-Grégoire
  • Étienne CharbonneauEmail author
  • Daniel E. BrombergEmail author


The sustainability assumption -that once a department, ministry or agency adopts performance measurement tools, it will stay that way- undermines the analyses of performance reforms and performance management practices. The results from analyzing longitudinal descriptive evidence from a unique dataset in a Canadian province are that the implementation and the stability of performance tools uses within ministries and agencies contradicts the sustainability assumption. Mazmanian and Sabatier’s (1989; 1980) cumulative incrementalism scenario is not observed; there is much volatility in performance management from former adopters. Performance management might be much more volatile than practitioners and academics realize.


Performance management Performance reform Policy implementation Canada 



We thank the attendees of the 7th Azienda Pubblica Workshop held on May 25–27, 2016 in Palermo, Italy and Stéphanie Gagnon and Isabelle Bourgeois for their comments on an earlier version of that paper. All remaining errors are ours. The corresponding author received financial support from the Fonds de recherche du Québec - Société et culture.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Université de SherbrookeQCCanada
  2. 2.École nationale d’administration publiqueQCCanada
  3. 3.University of New HampshireDurhamUSA

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