Model 1: Performance Administration

(a continuation from the December 23, 2009  blog on “Managing Performance”)

Bouckaert and Halligan call their first idealized performance management model the “Performance Administration” approach.

This model is seen as modest, ad hoc and un-systematic.  It is oftentimes designed for formal, hierarchical organizations and is seen as mechanistic or compliance-oriented in implementation.  Nevertheless, it is the typical starting place for many organizations.

This formal, procedural approach can be seen by skeptics as “hyper-rational,” developing strategic plans, performance plans, operational plans, and reports.  This may be best exemplified by the requirements of the U.S. Government Performance and Results Act

In this model, an agency is seen as successful if it can demonstrate a functional, legitimate performance system.  This approach, according to the authors, focuses on “due process, which becomes the essence of the performance of this system.  As a consequence, there is a systematic and law-based selective perception that it is more input- and process-oriented than output- and effect-focused.” . . . “The formal and procedural mechanisms, or the due administrative processes, are the core itself of the system, and hence of its performance.”

Bouckaert and Halligan observe: “A systematic administrator-driven Performance Administration is at the level of a single organization.  Its purpose is to improve efficiency and productivity and it is only partly incorporated and used for improvement purposes.” . . . “The essence of the measurement type is static and based on a single loop process of learning.  This is compatible with a causal and mechanistic way of perceiving the production cycle. . . .”

In addition, they note: “A Performance Administration measurement system is a static and micro organisational-based type.  It is a causal, scientifically grounded, mechanistic and a linear input/output-based type of measurement system. . . .as a consequence the main focus is on productivity or technical efficiency.”

Bouckaert and Halligan’s longitudinal case studies demonstrate how, over time, such systems seem to evolve from just compliance, to the development of a supply of measures, to their use in making policy, program, and resource decisions.

While this may seem like a natural evolution, it can remain frozen or diverge into another path.  The next “idealized model” described by the authors is one where multiple performance systems exist side-by-side. . . “siloed performance systems.”


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