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Performing the state: the socio-political dimensions of performance measurement in policy and public services

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This opening paper outlines the rise of public sector performance measurement and performance governance from New Public Management, its trajectory from an administrative tool for organisational monitoring and management, to its insertion into service performance and accountability, to a policy tool defining policy itself. Four key conceptual ways of approaching public sector performance measurement are outlined, and the significance of understanding performance measurement as a socio-technical policy instrument is argued. The paper thematically reviews the papers that follow and how they demonstrate new points of critical analysis in policy studies, including the multiple, mixed and sometimes contradictory purposes for performance measurement, the formation of performance measurement tools, the linkages of performance numbers and governance structures from macro to micro, and the reconfigured roles of professionals in public service delivery. The paper issues a clear challenge to policy researchers to take performance measurement more seriously in understanding the dynamics of policy performance, the achievement of policy objectives, the reframing of policy and the experience of citizens.
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Keywords: Australasia; NPM; Performance measurement; performance governance; policy instruments

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: School of Social Science, University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD, Australia

Publication date: November 1, 2016

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