Explores issues surrounding the recent evolution of benchmarking in the UK public sector with particular regard to local authorities. Argues that what is being done in the name of benchmarking in UK local authorities is fundamentally different to the current understanding of benchmarking practice in the private sector. Despite these differences, and somewhat ironically, the development of benchmarking in the public sector pre‐dates its popularity in the private sector. In the public sector, benchmarking is frequently in response to central government requirements, or is used for defensive reasons rather than striving for performance gains. These themes are captured in two new benchmarking typologies: compulsory and voluntary models of benchmarking. Concludes that: the reasons for benchmarking in the public sector are confused; pressures for accountability in the public sector may militate against real performance improvement; and an appropriate balance between the use of benchmarking for control and improvement purposes is yet to be achieved.
Bowerman, M., Francis, G., Ball, A. and Fry, J. (2002), "The evolution of benchmarking in UK local authorities", Benchmarking: An International Journal, Vol. 9 No. 5, pp. 429-449. https://doi.org/10.1108/14635770210451455
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