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Principles of performance dialogue in public administration

Harri Laihonen (Faculty of Management, University of Tampere, Tampere, Finland)
Sari Mäntylä (Faculty of Management, University of Tampere, Tampere, Finland)

International Journal of Public Sector Management

ISSN: 0951-3558

Article publication date: 10 July 2017

Abstract

Purpose

The literature acknowledges the importance of interpretative processes, discussion, and organizational learning in public performance management, but a knowledge gap remains concerning the mechanism of performance dialogue. To fill this gap, the purpose of this paper is to study the principles of performance dialogue and collaborative performance management in public administration.

Design/methodology/approach

The study utilizes a longitudinal research setting and analyzes the evolution of performance management practices in one city organization in Finland.

Findings

The study suggests that performance dialogue needs to be integrated with management practices and explains how this can be done. Three guiding principles of performance dialogue and collaborative performance management are derived. These underline the role of “referees of the information game”, a supportive and encouraging environment and a focus on the use of performance information.

Practical implications

Performance information is too often provided as a back-office function, and dialogue with information users is either completely lacking or somehow disturbed. The performance dialogue provides a platform for collaborative sense making and helps managers to better understand the complex phenomena and processes they are responsible for.

Originality/value

The literature dealing specifically with the change from centralized and vertical performance management practices toward decentralized and horizontal practices is still scarce. This paper provides a new perspective on management control and organizational learning in public administration based on performance dialogue.

Keywords

Citation

Laihonen, H. and Mäntylä, S. (2017), "Principles of performance dialogue in public administration", International Journal of Public Sector Management, Vol. 30 No. 5, pp. 414-428. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJPSM-09-2016-0149

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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