Why is dialogue on performance challenging in the public sector?

Tomi Rajala (Faculty of Management, University of Tampere, Tampere, Finland)
Harri Laihonen (Faculty of Management, University of Tampere, Tampere, Finland)
Petra Haapala (Faculty of Management, University of Tampere, Tampere, Finland)

Measuring Business Excellence

ISSN: 1368-3047

Publication date: 21 May 2018



This paper aims to understand performance management as a social phenomenon by investigating the challenges of performance dialogue, a phenomenon where participants jointly interpret performance information and discuss it while identifying the actions needed to manage the performance according to this information.


The research aim is achieved by conducting an interview study. Empirical data were collected by interviewing 30 public managers in three Finnish municipalities and subjecting it to content analysis using inductive category development.


The research provides empirical evidence from challenges in engaging in performance dialogue. It moreover derives a comprehensive conceptual model categorizing factors inhibiting performance dialogue.

Practical implications

Difficulties in conducting organizational performance dialogues are better explained. The findings support the management of performance dialogue by helping practitioners to identify challenges associated to these dialogues.


This study contributes to current conversations on performance management by showing that performance dialogues are no miracle cure for problems in performance information use. Moreover, the authors demonstrate that complications in performance information use are intertwined in many ways.



Rajala, T., Laihonen, H. and Haapala, P. (2018), "Why is dialogue on performance challenging in the public sector?", Measuring Business Excellence, Vol. 22 No. 2, pp. 117-129. https://doi.org/10.1108/MBE-06-2017-0032

Download as .RIS



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

Please note you might not have access to this content

You may be able to access this content by login via Shibboleth, Open Athens or with your Emerald account.
If you would like to contact us about accessing this content, click the button and fill out the form.
To rent this content from Deepdyve, please click the button.