The use of performance information case studies in local social services departments


New Public Management (NPM) is the commonly used label for the growing popularity of businesslike control tools in governmental organisations. NPM includes several dimensions of change, such as divisionalisation, visible and active control and a prominent role for performance measurement. Developments in Dutch local government demonstrate several of these elements of NPM. Pollitt and Bouckaert (2000) and Pollitt (2002) defined four levels of NPM change: (1) discourse; (2) decisions; (3) practices and (4) results. This paper focuses on performance measurement. The politicians and managers at the top of the investigated municipalities took the decision to adopt instruments that generate performance information. This paper seeks to explain the extent to which the information resulting from these instruments is actually being used in the management practices at work floor level. It investigates two categories of explanations for information use: characteristics of the available information (such as its contents, amount and quality) and characteristics of the organization and its routines. The paper thus analyses how decisions taken by politicians and top managers to adopt NPM relate practices at work floor level.

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