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Local government consultant performance measures: an empirical study

Eric Deakins (Department of Management Systems, Waikato Management School, University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand)
Stuart Dillon (Department of Management Systems, Waikato Management School, University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand)

International Journal of Public Sector Management

ISSN: 0951-3558

Article publication date: 1 October 2005




The aim of this paper is to report on development and use of a survey instrument that captures qualitative, process‐related data from local authority officers in New Zealand, from which is derived a rigorous and parsimonious set of critical performance measures.


An instrument was developed utilising performance exemplars promoted by industry‐respected consulting experts. New Zealand local authorities were surveyed and exploratory factor analysis used to identify what the factors represent conceptually. Profile Similarity Indices (PSIs) describe the alignment between expected and actual consultant performances.


A rigorous set of five critical process‐related dimensions of performance and their associated (18) scales were derived, which demonstrate the desired properties of reliability and validity. Interpretation of the Profile Similarity Indices values is provided.

Research limitations/implications

Subjective data on excellent consulting practice sourced from industry‐respected consultants was used rather than justifying reasons for their choice from a theoretical basis. Generalisability of results to other business and industry sectors remains to be tested.

Practical implications

The derived performance measures may be used by practitioners to objectively assess management consultant performance and local authority performance (in specifying the contract). Where performance discrepancies exist, reasons and remedial actions may be determined via consideration of the individual scale items.


There continues to be a lack of research into the practices employed by local authorities when they retain and manage their management consultants; such purchasers often experience difficulty judging what is being offered and what kinds and levels of performance are relevant and achievable. Underperformance may be due to a lack of objective and well‐developed consulting performance standards. The present study examines these gaps.



Deakins, E. and Dillon, S. (2005), "Local government consultant performance measures: an empirical study", International Journal of Public Sector Management, Vol. 18 No. 6, pp. 546-562.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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