Improving performance: Does performance-oriented management really matter?

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7 Citations (Scopus)


The last two decades have witnessed the emergence of “performance-oriented management” (POM) as a major approach to public management reform in the United States. POM refers to management practices that share a common assumption that effective goal setting, and proper design and implementation of performance management systems are the key to high performance. Despite the prominence of POM in the practice of public management today, very little large-N empirical research has investigated the effectiveness of POM as a management reform strategy. This study seeks to fill this void by drawing on the Merit Principles Survey 2000 data to test whether POM actually ensures the results envisioned by its advocates. The regression results show that the two core elements of POM goal setting, and performance management design and implementation are positively associated with performance dimensions such as productivity and quality of work, providing support for the idea that POM can be a performance driver in governmental settings. This study also examines whether the effect of POM is mitigated by the presence of intensive external political influences as POM skeptics suggest. The results are mixed: the effect of goal setting on performance was found to be smaller in federal agencies with high political salience than in federal agencies with low political salience; on the other hand, the effect of performance management design and implementation was not significantly different across the two groups. Implications of these findings are discussed in relation to the issue of administrative reform and the research on governmental performance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-34
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Review of Public Administration
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2009 Jan 1

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Administration


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