Politicians, output-budgets and performance evaluation : case research in three Dutch municipalities
Since the mid-eighties many Dutch municipalities have divided their organizations into decentralized units. In addition, most municipalities have introduced management instruments derived from the private sector, and have been paying more attention to the outputs of the organizations. Nowadays, the political administration of a municipality says that it wants to hold organization units accountable for realized output performance. This paper raises the question of whether politicians use the available quantitative output information to control their organization and in particular to evaluate the performance of top officials. In the paper the Hopwood evaluation-styles, which originally refer to the private sector, are further developed for the public sector. Exploratory field research concerning the use of output data and the evaluation styles used has been conducted in three Dutch municipalities. The aldermen in these municipalities paid much attention to manager’s activities and the organization’s operations and relatively little to outputs. Based on these empirical findings the paper introduces an additional evaluation style, the ’operations-conscious’ style. In this style of evaluation, quantitative outputs play some part, but the main question is whether a manager acts as a good ’facilitator’, i.e. ensures that his organization is functioning well. This aspect is mainly judged in a qualitative way. Besides, important criteria are the way in which a manager deals with short-term problems and with the politician’s opinions and personal wishes.
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