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Measuring and reporting public sector outputs/outcomes: Exploratory evidence from Australia

Zahirul Hoque (Department of Accounting, School of Business, La Trobe University, Bundoora, Australia)

International Journal of Public Sector Management

ISSN: 0951-3558

Article publication date: 11 July 2008




The purpose of this paper is to report on a study of performance measurement and reporting practices of four government departments in Australia.


Relying on the “context” and “content” aspects of the institutional and strategic choice literatures, the paper suggests how external institutions such as government regulatory frameworks and internal organizational contexts such as strategic plans may shape the design of performance measurement and reporting of government departments. Texts and contents from archival sources such as published annual reports and department web sites provided insightful and interesting findings.


The paper reveals that performance measurement systems design as a central thrust to the subject government departments' strategic planning and management framework. Furthermore, content analyses of the data indicate a clear linkage between the recently introduced “managing for outcomes” framework and performance measurement practices of government departments.

Research limitations/implications

This is an exploratory study based on archival documents only, thereby provides limited insights into how organizational managers perceived the relevance and usefulness of performance measurement data. However, textual analysis from archival documents provides a rich description of how measuring and reporting of the economy, efficiency, and effectiveness of today's government organizations could be the interaction of both internal and external contexts within which they operate.

Practical implications

The paper adds to the existing public sector management and accounting literatures by suggesting that the construction and reporting process of performance measurement are crucial and relevant in today's government organizations facing a significant reduction in government funding with increased community demand for quality services.


Experiences in subject government entities will provide a platform for academic researchers and/or practitioners from multiple disciplines to disseminate information on accounting and performance management in the changing public sector worldwide.



Hoque, Z. (2008), "Measuring and reporting public sector outputs/outcomes: Exploratory evidence from Australia", International Journal of Public Sector Management, Vol. 21 No. 5, pp. 468-493.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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