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Measuring capacity to perform across local government services – managers' perceptions

Lisa Björk (Department of Sociology and Work Science, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden)
Stefan Szücs (Department of Sociology and Work Science, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden)
Annika Härenstam (Department of Sociology and Work Science, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden)

International Journal of Public Sector Management

ISSN: 0951-3558

Publication date: 7 January 2014

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims at developing a measure that can be used to evaluate organizational capacity to perform across local government jurisdictions, using operational managers' own assessments.

Design/methodology/approach

The “management matters” literature that links organizational capacity to service performance is far from reaching any consensus on how to operationalize organizational capacity. In this study, over 400 operational managers were asked, at two different time points and in thirty different local government departments, about what opportunities they have to fulfill their responsibilities and about their perceptions of service performance. The data are factor analyzed, and the proportion of higher level variance of the resulting capacity measure is explored.

Findings

Organizational capacity to perform represents a consistent measure that covers essential aspects of the managerial assignment and is empirically distinct, yet positively related to the managers' perceptions of service performance. Results further show that up to 12 percent of the variance in organizational capacity to perform can be attributed to the organization in which managers work.

Practical implications

A service-neutral measure of organizational capacity to perform should be useful to strategic managers in organizations as guidance for resource allocation, and for the design of solid organizational structures and support systems for operational managers.

Originality/value

Recent public management research indicates that rationalistic management models are often inadequately grounded in the day-to-day practices of operative managerial work. The construct of organizational capacity to perform presented in this study could be a valuable instrument that can bridge this strategic-operational disconnect and provide an insider perspective of the organizational prerequisites that underpin any public service achievement.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The study is part of a research program on organizational prerequisites and managers' health and performance in local government organizations (“Chefers hälsa, effektivitet, förutsättningar i offentlig sector; CHEFiOS”), funded by the Swedish National Agency of Research and Innovation for Sustainable Growth (VINNOVA). The overarching aim of the program is to investigate and improve the preconditions for psychosocial health of public managers and the performance of the services.

Citation

Björk, L., Szücs, S. and Härenstam, A. (2014), "Measuring capacity to perform across local government services – managers' perceptions", International Journal of Public Sector Management, Vol. 27 No. 1, pp. 26-38. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJPSM-09-2012-0115

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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