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Performance measurement in governmental organizations: a contingent approach to measurement and management control

E. Pieter Jansen (Faculty of Management and Organization, University of Groningen, P.O. Box 800, 9700 AV Groningen, The Netherlands)

Managerial Finance

ISSN: 0307-4358

Article publication date: 1 August 2004



In many countries, governmental organizations decentralized their organization structures, leading to an increased relevance of performance information. This paper identifies two approaches to measure performance in the not‐for‐profit sector: an output‐focused and a throughput‐focused approach. Furthermore, the paper sets a contingency framework concerning the applicability of these two approaches. The two most important contingent variables, i.e., whether output can be identified and whether activities are repetitive, determine the possibilities to apply the two approaches. If it is possible to apply both approaches, the ambiguity of organizational objectives, the hierarchical position of information users and the relevance of efficiency and quality are additional contingent variables that influence the approach to assess performance. Finally, the paper identifies how the approach to measure performance relates to management control types. If none of the two approaches is applicable, the organization has to rely on a management control type without an explicit system to measure performance, i.e., political or judgmental control. Routine or trial‐and‐error control fit with both approaches to measure performance. Expert and intuitive control are control types that rely on output‐based approaches to measure performance.



Pieter Jansen, E. (2004), "Performance measurement in governmental organizations: a contingent approach to measurement and management control", Managerial Finance, Vol. 30 No. 8, pp. 54-68.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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