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Article
Publication date: 4 March 2019

Rodney J. Dormer

The purpose of this paper is to explore the recently increased use of the word “investment” in the public management discourse. In particular, it examines the implications…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore the recently increased use of the word “investment” in the public management discourse. In particular, it examines the implications of this for accounting and public governance. It asks, is that discourse simply concerned to account for “investment” in the efficient provision of public goods and services? Or does it also seek to hold governments, and government agencies, to account for the results they achieve and, more broadly, for their investment in, and stewardship of, the capacity to do so in the future?

Design/methodology/approach

The paper draws on a range of literature as well as speeches made by both New Zealand politicians and officials to track the emergence and evolution of a discourse in respect of “an investment approach”. As such, the analysis represents a diachronic approach for, as Jäger and Meyer (2009) note: “To identify the knowledge of a society on a topic, the analyst has to reconstruct the genesis of this topic” (p. 46).

Findings

The initial adoption of “an investment approach” occurred in the context of attempts to gain a clearer focus on, and accountability for, the results of government interventions. Subsequently, a broader, and arguably more classic, conception of public investment has involved a developing focus on changes to the nation’s economic, social and environmental capitals. Both approaches provide significant practical challenges for accounting and the continued relevance of the accounting profession.

Research limitations/implications

The paper points to an urgent need to engage the accounting profession in debates that extend beyond the adoption of accrual accounting for the control of inputs and the provision of outputs. It is suggested that a future research agenda should focus on how models of well-being, and the public capitals that enable well-being, might be better accounted for and monitored.

Originality/value

This paper provides an insight into the emergence, spread and ultimate fading of the use of the word “investment” in the public policy discourse in New Zealand. However, it also places that process in a wider development that is focusing on citizens’ well-being. In so doing, it also highlights the challenges for the accounting profession created by the investment turn – whether relating to investment in operational activities or in public capitals.

Details

Journal of Public Budgeting, Accounting & Financial Management, vol. 31 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1096-3367

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 23 March 2010

Rodney Dormer and Derek Gill

The purpose of this paper is to examine the institutional factors that impact on the integration of the formal model of performance management in New Zealand's public

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine the institutional factors that impact on the integration of the formal model of performance management in New Zealand's public service and the model, or models, in use within different agencies and at different levels within those agencies.

Design/methodology/approach

The research involved semi‐structured interviews with managers within three agencies of New Zealand's central government as well as a review of their external accountability documents and internal management reports. These data were then interpreted in the context of new institutional sociology. In particular, the institutional carriers identified by Scott (2001) Scott were used to map the characteristics within each agency that support more or less integration, and common use, of performance measures.

Findings

It is concluded that an integrated framework of performance objectives, that drops down from the Government's priorities, to Ministers' purchase of goods and services, to managers' objectives at each layer of the agency, does not always exist. Institutional arrangements that emphasise regulative controls are more likely to result in the decoupling of nationally defined frameworks from those used locally by operational managers. Conversely, institutional arrangements that emphasise culturally and cognitively based controls are more likely to support tight coupling of performance management frameworks and practices.

Originality/value

While much has been written about public sector management and what has been referred to as “the New Zealand model”, this has largely been concerned with the management of the public sector as a whole. This research provides an empirical insight on management practices within individual public sector agencies.

Details

Measuring Business Excellence, vol. 14 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1368-3047

Keywords

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Book part
Publication date: 28 June 2016

Patricio Rojas

This exploratory study aims to contribute to theory extension regarding the unique factors that characterize performance evaluation in the public sector.

Abstract

Purpose

This exploratory study aims to contribute to theory extension regarding the unique factors that characterize performance evaluation in the public sector.

Methodology/approach

The chapter reviews the Public Sector and the Interpretation literatures and develops a framework that introduces the concept of interpretation asymmetries, and then uses two case studies and a survey applied to both South American and European public managers to illustrate and analyze propositions derived from the framework.

Findings

Public agencies and managers are not assessed by their activities and outcomes but by how the general public may come to interpret and perceive them. Public officers – besides getting their organizations’ job done – struggle to show the truth of their organizations and preserve their organizations’ legitimacy due to the conditions of interpretation asymmetry and the dynamics of politicization prevalent in the public domain.

Research limitations/implications

This study was designed to be exploratory and fundamentally oriented to theory extension. As such, the findings and conclusions are tentative and require further research.

Practical implications

Governments, public officers, politicians, and researchers would benefit from going beyond usual considerations of information asymmetries and start paying attention to, understanding, and managing interpretation asymmetries.

Originality/value

This chapter contributes to the increasing research on the intersection of performance management and the public sector, and provides new concepts that enhance our understanding of the dynamics of assessment in environments prone to politicization. While prior research has been mainly focused on agent’s dysfunctional responses to performance measures, this chapter illustrates functional behaviors through which agents aim to increase the dimensionality and integrity of principals’ interpretations.

Details

Performance Measurement and Management Control: Contemporary Issues
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78560-915-2

Keywords

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Abstract

Details

Public Policy and Governance Frontiers in New Zealand
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83867-455-7

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