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Performance management in the UK public sector: Addressing multiple stakeholder complexity

Rodney McAdam (University of Ulster, Newtownabbey, UK)
Shirley‐Ann Hazlett (School of Management and Economics, Queen's University, Belfast, UK)
Christine Casey (Northern Ireland Civil Service, Newtownabbey, UK)

International Journal of Public Sector Management

ISSN: 0951-3558

Article publication date: 1 May 2005




The aim of this paper is to explore the issues involved in developing and applying performance management approaches within a large UK public sector department using a multiple stakeholder perspective and an accompanying theoretical framework.


An initial short questionnaire was used to determine perceptions about the implementation and effectiveness of the new performance management system across the organisation. In total, 700 questionnaires were distributed. Running concurrently with an ethnographic approach, and informed by the questionnaire responses, was a series of semi‐structured interviews and focus groups.


Staff at all levels had an understanding of the new system and perceived it as being beneficial. However, there were concerns that the approach was not continuously managed throughout the year and was in danger of becoming an annual event, rather than an ongoing process. Furthermore, the change process seemed to have advanced without corresponding changes to appraisal and reward and recognition systems. Thus, the business objectives were not aligned with motivating factors within the organisation.

Research limitations/implications

Additional research to test the validity and usefulness of the theoretical model, as discussed in this paper, would be beneficial.

Practical implications

The strategic integration of the stakeholder performance measures and scorecards was found to be essential to producing an overall stakeholder‐driven strategy within the case study organisation.


This paper discusses in detail the approach adopted and the progress made by one large UK public sector organisation, as it attempts to develop better relationships with all of its stakeholders and hence improve its performance. This paper provides a concerted attempt to link theory with practice.



McAdam, R., Hazlett, S. and Casey, C. (2005), "Performance management in the UK public sector: Addressing multiple stakeholder complexity", International Journal of Public Sector Management, Vol. 18 No. 3, pp. 256-273.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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