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The dangers of internationalization and “one‐size‐fits‐all” in public sector management: Lessons from performance management policies in Ontario and Ghana

Frank Ohemeng (University of Ottawa‐School of Political Studies, Ottawa, Canada)

International Journal of Public Sector Management

ISSN: 0951-3558

Article publication date: 13 July 2010




The purpose of this paper is to develop a theoretical framework to explain the failure in public management of wholesale policy transfer from well developed to developing economies.


The paper relies extensively on organizational surveys and specialized interviews in both jurisdictions, as well as on a review of government (primary) and other institutional documents. It is qualitative in nature.


The paper reveals that the context in which public sector reform policies are implemented matters. In short, the environment (with structural and contextual variables) is an essential element in the success of policies. It highlights important factors such as culture, institutional dynamism, the role of the external actors, etc. as issues that must be carefully looked at in the development and implementation of reform policies.

Research limitations/implications

The number of cases needs to be expanded to further confirm the results. Furthermore, before it is possible to generalize about the theory's applicability, it is necessary to test the theoretical framework by examining the issue of policy transfer among developing countries.

Practical implications

The findings point to the need for theorists, policy makers, and policy implementers to be open‐minded as they attempt to develop and implement policies for public sector reforms in different circumstances. They thus emphasize the need to adapt reforms to a particular environment rather than pursuing a one‐size‐fits‐all approach. The paper thus argues that the most appropriate management strategies for reforms must be cognizant of local environmental conditions so as to tailor policies that fit the environment.


The paper contributes to both theory and practice by participating in the discussion on what must be considered administrative reforms. The paper will be of interest to those searching for ways to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of public sector organizations through reforms and, in particular, of performance management, as well as to stakeholders interested in well‐functioning public sector organizations.



Ohemeng, F. (2010), "The dangers of internationalization and “one‐size‐fits‐all” in public sector management: Lessons from performance management policies in Ontario and Ghana", International Journal of Public Sector Management, Vol. 23 No. 5, pp. 456-478.



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Copyright © 2010, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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