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Performance Management and the Demise of Leadership

Paul Carlisle (Institute of Criminal Justice Studies, Portsmouth University)
Barry Loveday (Institute of Criminal Justice Studies, Portsmouth University)

International Journal of Leadership in Public Services

ISSN: 1747-9886

Article publication date: 1 July 2007



This article discusses the qualities of leadership and contrasts the role of a leader with that of a manger. It analyses the impact of the New Public Management (NPM) regime's performance management strand on leadership in the public sector. The achievement of targets is seen as a measure of political success and analysis is made of the manner in which this is reinforced throughout public organisations. The effects of ‘robust’ performance management techniques are examined and examples given of the negative impacts of quantitative targets. It is argued that the function of the leader is reduced to that of managing the attainment of these centrally set goals. As a result risk‐taking and innovation are constrained to that which is required for the achievement of these goals. This is seen as an explanation for the current prevalence of ‘gaming’ ploys and is linked to a drop‐in integrity in the pursuit of outputs. It is further argued that the target regime sees the ‘Sovietisation’ of the public sector and a return to the Taylorian values of an industrial past. A brief case study of social service provision illustrates the potential for negative outcomes that may result. This article concludes that when a ‘tick in the box’ is allowed to suffice the qualities of public sector leadership are inevitably reduced and confined to the panopticon of centralised targets.



Carlisle, P. and Loveday, B. (2007), "Performance Management and the Demise of Leadership", International Journal of Leadership in Public Services, Vol. 3 No. 2, pp. 18-26.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2007, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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