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Political Pressures: Too Large, Too Small, or Just Right?

Contingency, Behavioural and Evolutionary Perspectives on Public and Nonprofit Governance

ISBN: 978-1-78560-429-4, eISBN: 978-1-78560-428-7

Publication date: 6 November 2015



There has been much debate in the literature regarding whether political pressures are beneficial or detrimental to public agencies’ performance and outcomes. This chapter explores under what conditions, if any, do political pressures have any positive effects.


A survey methodology and multivariate regression models are applied to assess the relationship between political pressures and public agencies’ performance and outcomes, using data from South-America and Europe. The theoretical scope is developed drawing from the public sector, management control, and goal-setting literatures.


The effects of political pressures on public agencies’ performance and public officers’ job satisfaction are moderated by technical certainty. At low levels of technical certainty political pressures have negative effects while at high levels they have positive effects.

Research limitations/implications

All limitations of survey research apply.

Practical implications

Governments, public officers, and politicians should take into account the dynamics described in this study so as to limit the negative effects of political pressures and take advantage of the positive ones.


This is the first study to suggest that the effects of political pressures on public agencies vary depending on the nature of the task public agencies perform. The results reported here bring a new perspective to the literature, helping to clarify prior conflicting results. In addition, the fact that results are consistent for South American and European public agencies suggests that these findings might be generalizable across cultural boundaries.




The participation and generous donation of time by each of the public officers in this research is gratefully acknowledged. Part of this research has been executed while the author was pursuing doctoral studies at IESE Business School. A previous version of this chapter has benefited from comments from professors Antonio Dávila y Miguel Ángel Canela.


Rojas, P. (2015), "Political Pressures: Too Large, Too Small, or Just Right?", Contingency, Behavioural and Evolutionary Perspectives on Public and Nonprofit Governance (Studies in Public and Non-Profit Governance, Vol. 4), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 155-187.



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