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“Measuring up”: a systematic literature review of performance measurement in Australia and New Zealand local government

Mary C. Johnsson (Faculty of Business, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia)
Matthew Pepper (Faculty of Business, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia)
Oriana Milani Price (SMOM, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia)
Lauren P. Richardson (Faculty of Business, Sydney Business School, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia)

Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management

ISSN: 1176-6093

Article publication date: 26 February 2021

Issue publication date: 16 July 2021

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Abstract

Purpose

Measurement practices have long been considered vital for informing the management of performance in organisations. Their application to local governments is a more recent, yet multi-decade phenomenon facilitated by New Public Management trends. This paper aims to review the landscape of publications that discuss performance measurement (PM) practices in Australian and New Zealand local government contexts and identify implications for future research.

Design/methodology/approach

A systematic review methodology was used to identify a shortlist of publications. Next, a rating-based researcher appraisal process was applied. Multiple iterations of search and appraisal were conducted to form the basis for inductive thematic analysis and synthesis.

Findings

Analysing 65 PM publications, two interrelated themes, namely, discourses of performance as efficiency, accountability or strategic growth and change were identified, which influence the adoption of local PM tools and frameworks. As demands for strategic growth and more complex service delivery increase, strategic and localised adaptation of PMs may be required to integrate learning and communicative competencies with technical and operational capabilities.

Research limitations/implications

The systematic review methodology has been applied to address some of the limitations of publication and reporting biases in literature. This research provides a starting point for future investigations and broadening of discourse in local government contexts.

Originality/value

This paper represents the first systematic review of 1995–2020 publications on performance management practices used by local governments in Australia and New Zealand.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors acknowledge funding support from the University of Wollongong Faculty of Business Partnership Matching Grant. The authors also thank two anonymous reviewers and the editor for helpful comments on earlier drafts of this paper.

Citation

Johnsson, M.C., Pepper, M., Price, O.M. and Richardson, L.P. (2021), "“Measuring up”: a systematic literature review of performance measurement in Australia and New Zealand local government", Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management, Vol. 18 No. 2, pp. 195-227. https://doi.org/10.1108/QRAM-11-2020-0184

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited

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