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

Abstract

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.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6
Fig. 7
Fig. 8

References

  1. Ammons, D. N. (2013). Signs of performance measurement progress among Prominent City governments. Public Performance & Management Review, 36(4), 507–528.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Andrews, R., & Brewer, G. A. (2015). Social capital and public service performance: Does managerial strategy matter? Public Performance & Management Review, 38(2), 187–213.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Bernier, L., & Gagnon, S. (2010). Restructurer peu, restructurer mieux : leçons d’expériences ministérielles récentes au Canada. Administration publique du Canada, 53(1), 21–46.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Bianchi, C., & Rivenbark, W. C. (2012). A comparative analysis of performance management systems: The cases of Sicily and North Carolina. Public Performance & Management Review, 35(3), 509–526.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Bianchi, C., & Rivenbark, W. C. (2014). Performance Management in Local Government: The application of system dynamics to promote data use. International Journal of Public Administration, 37(13), 945–954.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Blount, I.Y. (2013). Policy Implementation by Executive Order: A Quantitative Analysis of the Effects of Agency Decisions and Organizational Characteristics on Government Expenditures Through a Minority Businesses Enterprise Set-Aside Program in Ohio Doctoral dissertation. Ohio State University, Columbus.

  7. Bourne, M., Neely, A., Platts, K., & Mills, J. (2002). The success and failure of performance measurement initiatives: Perceptions of participating managers. International Journal of Operations & Production Management, 22(11), 1288–1310.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Christensen, T., & Lægreid, P. (2015). Performance and accountability—A theoretical discussion and an empirical assessment. Public Organization Review, 15(2), 207–225.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Côté, L., & Mazouz, B. (2005). Les effets de la Loi sur l’administration publique sur la qualité des services et sur la gestion dans les ministères et les organismes. Québec, QC: École nationale d'administration publique.

  10. Cunha, M. P., & Tsoukas, H. (2015). Reforming the state: Understanding the vicious circles of reform. European Management Journal, 33(4), 225–229.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. De Boef, S., & Keele, L. (2008). Taking time seriously. American Journal of Political Science, 52(1), 184–200.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Durant, R. F. (2014). Taking time seriously: Progressivism, the business–social science nexus, and the paradox of American administrative reform. Political Science & Politics, 47(1), 8–18.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. George, J. M., & Jones, G. R. (2000). The role of time in theory and theory building. Journal of Management, 26(4), 657–684.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Gerring, J. (2012a). Descriptive arguments Social Science Methodology: A Unified Framework (2nd ed., pp. 141-154). New York: Cambridge University Press.

  15. Gerring, J. (2012b). Mere Description. British Journal of Political Science, 42(4), 721–746.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Gilbert, M.-C. (2009). L'impact de la Loi sur l'Administration Publique sur le contrôle parlementaire. Master thesis: Université Laval, Québec.

    Google Scholar 

  17. Hupe, P. (2014). What happens on the ground: Persistent issues in implementation research. Public Policy and Administration, 29(2), 164–182.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Kroll, A. (2015). Drivers of performance information use: Systematic literature review and directions for future research. Public Performance & Management Review, 38(3), 459–486.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Lawrence, T. B., Winn, M. I., & Jennings, P. D. (2001). The temporal dynamics of institutionalization. Academy of Management Review, 26(4), 624–644.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Maltais, D. (2014). Constats et suggestions fondés sur les échanges avec des sous-ministres et présidents d’organismes concernant (1) la Loi québécoise sur l’administration publique (LAP) et (2) le fonctionnement de la Commission de l’administration publique (CAP). ENAP. Québec.

  21. Mazmanian, D. A., & Sabatier, P. A. (1989). Implementation and Public Policy (3rd ed.). Lanham, MD: University Press of America.

  22. McFarlane, D. R., & Meier, K. J. (2001). The politics of fertility control: Family planning and abortion policies in the American states. Chatham: Chatham House Publishers.

    Google Scholar 

  23. Moynihan, D. P. (2005). Why and how do state governments adopt and implement “managing for results” reforms? Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, 15(2), 219–243.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Moynihan, D. P. (2008). The dynamics of performance management: Constructing information and reform. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  25. Moynihan, D. P. (2013). Advancing the Empirical Study of Performance Management: What We Learned From the Program Assessment Rating Tool. American Review of Public Administration, 43(5), 499–517.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Moynihan, D. P., & Kroll, A. (2016). Performance management routines that work? An early assessment of the GPRA modernization act. Public Administration Review, 76(2), 314–323.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Moynihan, D. P., & Lavertu, S. (2012a). Does involvement in performance management routines encourage performance information use? Evaluating GPRA and PART. Public Administration Review, 72(4), 592–602.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Moynihan, D. P., & Lavertu, S. (2012b). Do performance reforms change how Federal Managers Manage? Issues in Governance Studies, 52, 1–9.

    Google Scholar 

  29. Nielsen, P. A. (2014). Performance management, managerial authority, and public service performance. Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, 24(2), 431–458.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. O'Toole, L. J. J. (2000). Research on policy implementation: Assessment and prospects. Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, 10(2), 263–288.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Ployhart, R. E., & Vandenberg, R. J. (2010). Longitudinal research: The theory, design, and analysis of change. Journal of Management, 36(1), 94–120.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Pollitt, C. (2009). Bureaucracies remember, post-Bureacratic organization forget? Public Administration, 87(2), 198–218.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Pollitt, C. (2008). Time, Policy, Management: Governing with the Past. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

  34. Pollitt, C. (2010). Cuts and reforms - public services as we move into a new era. Society and Economy, 32(1), 17–31.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Pollitt, C. (2013). The evolving narratives of public management reform: 40 years of reform white papers in the UK. Public Management Review, 15(6), 899–922.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. Reichborn-Kjennerud, K. (2015). Resistance to control—Norwegian ministries’ and agencies’ reactions to performance audit. Public Organization Review, 15(1), 17–32.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. Rose, S. W., Emery, S. L., Ennett, S., McNaughton Reyes, H. L., Scott, J. C., & Ribisl, K. M. (2015). Retailer opinions about and compliance with family smoking prevention and tobacco control act point of sale provisions: A survey of tobacco retailers. BMC Public Health, 15, 884–893.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. Sabatier, P., & Mazmanian, D. (1980). The implementation of public policy: A framework of analysis. Policy Studies Journal, 8(4), 538–560.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  39. Saetren, H. (2014). Implementing the third generation research paradigm in policy implementation research: An empirical assessment. Public Policy and Administration, 29(2), 84–105.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  40. Savoie, D. J. (2013). Whatever happened to the music teacher? How government decides and why. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  41. Taylor, A., & Taylor, M. (2013). Antecedents of effective performance measurement system implementation: An empirical study of UK manufacturing firms. International Journal of Production Research, 51(18), 5485–5498.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  42. Walker, R. M., & Andrews, R. (2015). Local government management and performance: A review of evidence. Journal of Public Administration Research & Theory, 25(1), 101–133.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  43. Wilkinson, L., & Task Force on Statistical Inference. (1999). Statistical methods in psychology journals: Guidelines and explanations. American Psychologist, 54(8), 594–604.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  44. Winter, S. C. (2007). Implementation perspectives: Status and reconsideration. In B. G. Peters & J. Pierre (Eds.), Handbook of public administration (pp. 131–141). Thousand Oaks: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  45. Woolfson, C., Foster, J., & Beck, M. (1996). Paying for the piper: Capital and labour in Britain’s offshore oil industry. New York: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  46. Yang, C. L., & Modell, S. (2013). Power and performance: Institutional Embeddedness and performance Management in a Chinese Local Government Organization. Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, 26(1), 101–132.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  47. Zaheer, S., Albert, S., & Zaheer, A. (1999). Time scales and organization theory. Academy of Management Review, 24(4), 725–741.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

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.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Étienne Charbonneau or Daniel E. Bromberg.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Genest-Grégoire, A., Charbonneau, É. & Bromberg, D.E. The Sustainability Assumption in Performance Management Reforms: Revisiting the Patterns of Implementation. Public Organiz Rev 18, 525–542 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11115-017-0391-5

Download citation

Keywords

  • Performance management
  • Performance reform
  • Policy implementation
  • Canada