A process (re)turn? Path dependencies, institutions and performance management in Swedish central government
2007 (English)In: Management Accounting Research, Vol. 18, no 4, 453-475 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Recent central government reforms have signalled a transition away from output-based governance and control to a more citizen-orientated and outcome-focused performance management ethos. Prior research suggests that this may give rise to institutional inconsistencies related to conflicting performance management logics. In this paper,we argue that rather than resulting in growing pre-occupation with outcomes and effectiveness, the emerging reform agenda may somewhat paradoxically reinforce managerial concerns with the operating processes underpinning public service delivery. Drawing on policy studies and management accounting research informed by new institutional sociology, we theorise these developments by invoking the notion of path dependency. We provide an empirical illustration based on field work in Swedish central government and adopt a multi-level approach in examining the evolution of performance management practices. While evidence of strongly constraining path dependencies is found at the overall policy level a case study in the Swedish Tax Agency shows that these may also embody an element of flexibility such that the meaning of inconsistent performance management logics is re-constructed over time. This illustrates how individual government agencies may link outcomes to operating process concerns and manage implementation problems related to conflicting and uncoordinated reform initiatives.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2007. Vol. 18, no 4, 453-475 p.
Central government, Institutions, Path dependency, Performance management, Process orientation, Public sector reform
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-20718OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-20718DiVA: diva2:187244