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Exploring a local council's change to an outcome measurement regime

Chia Yie Tan (Tan Che Associates, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)
Beverley R. Lord (University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand)
Russell Craig (University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand)
Amanda Ball (University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand)

Journal of Accounting & Organizational Change

ISSN: 1832-5912

Article publication date: 1 November 2011

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore the experience of a New Zealand (NZ) local council in changing from output‐based to outcome‐oriented performance measures, thereby, seeking to enhance understanding of how institutional pressures affect managers in a local government body.

Design/methodology/approach

By means of semi‐structured interviews with four managers and a councillor at a major city council in NZ, the authors elicit a better understanding of the process of changing to outcome‐oriented performance measures. The six‐stage model of institutional change proposed by Greenwood et al. provides a useful analytical lens. The authors report the thoughts and attitudes of interviewees regarding the effects of the change on the council's performance management, and particularly on its process of Long‐Term Council Community Planning.

Findings

Institutionalisation of the new outcome‐oriented performance measurement system was neither complete nor automatic. Conformity with it was harder where outputs and/or outcomes of activities were less easily definable. Decoupling was evident. Community consultation was regarded to be beneficial because it encouraged managers to be people‐oriented and reduced information asymmetry between managers and councillors.

Originality/value

The paper provides fresh case‐based insights to the process of institutionalising change in the performance measurement system of a local council.

Keywords

Citation

Yie Tan, C., Lord, B.R., Craig, R. and Ball, A. (2011), "Exploring a local council's change to an outcome measurement regime", Journal of Accounting & Organizational Change, Vol. 7 No. 4, pp. 391-407. https://doi.org/10.1108/18325911111182321

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited