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Exploring a local council's change to an outcome measurement regime

Exploring a local council's change to an outcome measurement regime Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore the experience of a New Zealand (NZ) local council in changing from output‐based to outcome‐oriented performance measures, thereby, seeking to enhance understanding of how institutional pressures affect managers in a local government body. Design/methodology/approach – By means of semi‐structured interviews with four managers and a councillor at a major city council in NZ, the authors elicit a better understanding of the process of changing to outcome‐oriented performance measures. The six‐stage model of institutional change proposed by Greenwood et al. provides a useful analytical lens. The authors report the thoughts and attitudes of interviewees regarding the effects of the change on the council's performance management, and particularly on its process of Long‐Term Council Community Planning. Findings – Institutionalisation of the new outcome‐oriented performance measurement system was neither complete nor automatic. Conformity with it was harder where outputs and/or outcomes of activities were less easily definable. Decoupling was evident. Community consultation was regarded to be beneficial because it encouraged managers to be people‐oriented and reduced information asymmetry between managers and councillors. Originality/value – The paper provides fresh case‐based insights to the process of institutionalising change in the performance measurement system of a local council. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Accounting & Organizational Change Emerald Publishing

Exploring a local council's change to an outcome measurement regime

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © 2011 Emerald Group Publishing Limited. All rights reserved.
ISSN
1832-5912
DOI
10.1108/18325911111182321
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore the experience of a New Zealand (NZ) local council in changing from output‐based to outcome‐oriented performance measures, thereby, seeking to enhance understanding of how institutional pressures affect managers in a local government body. Design/methodology/approach – By means of semi‐structured interviews with four managers and a councillor at a major city council in NZ, the authors elicit a better understanding of the process of changing to outcome‐oriented performance measures. The six‐stage model of institutional change proposed by Greenwood et al. provides a useful analytical lens. The authors report the thoughts and attitudes of interviewees regarding the effects of the change on the council's performance management, and particularly on its process of Long‐Term Council Community Planning. Findings – Institutionalisation of the new outcome‐oriented performance measurement system was neither complete nor automatic. Conformity with it was harder where outputs and/or outcomes of activities were less easily definable. Decoupling was evident. Community consultation was regarded to be beneficial because it encouraged managers to be people‐oriented and reduced information asymmetry between managers and councillors. Originality/value – The paper provides fresh case‐based insights to the process of institutionalising change in the performance measurement system of a local council.

Journal

Journal of Accounting & Organizational ChangeEmerald Publishing

Published: Nov 1, 2011

Keywords: New Zealand; Local government; Managers; Performance measurement; Public sector reform; Institutional theory

References