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Article

Giuseppe Grossi, Ulf Papenfuß and Marie-Soleil Tremblay

– The purpose of this paper is to introduce the special issue and outline its major themes and challenges, their relevance and the research opportunities the field presents.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to introduce the special issue and outline its major themes and challenges, their relevance and the research opportunities the field presents.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper reviews prior literature and outline’s the need to analyse challenges for corporate governance and accountability of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) as a precursor to introducing the contributions to this special issue.

Findings

Corporate governance, accounting and accountability of SOEs are crucial and growing topics in public management and other research disciplines. Public service provision and budget consolidation cannot be realized effectively and efficiently without powerful governance and management of SOEs. However there are significant corporate governance challenges and important empirical research gaps in comparison to other fields. Broader theoretical perspectives, methodological approaches, accountability mechanisms and sector/context are identified and discussed and encouraged in future research.

Research limitations/implications

This paper aims to stimulate interdisciplinary research on emerging issues affecting governance and accountability of SOEs considering their growing importance in the society and their changing nature.

Practical implications

Effective mechanisms and good practices may contribute to better performance of SOEs. Findings may help politicians, administrations, board members, auditors, consultants, scholars and the media striving for improvements around the world.

Originality/value

The paper condenses theoretical and empirical findings to highlight the relevance of this field and important research gaps. The special issue offers an empirical examination of interdisciplinary literature and innovative experiences of SOEs to strengthen public service motivation, board composition and roles, trust and control, transparency, public value and to enhance the ability to manage, steer and monitor contracts, performance and relationships.

Details

International Journal of Public Sector Management, vol. 28 no. 4/5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3558

Keywords

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Article

Dorothea Greiling, Albert Anton Traxler and Sandra Stötzer

The purpose of this paper is to investigate to what extent public sector entities in Austria, Germany and Switzerland apply sustainability reporting (SR) guidelines in…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate to what extent public sector entities in Austria, Germany and Switzerland apply sustainability reporting (SR) guidelines in line with the global reporting initiative (GRI) to respond to societal pressure. It further assesses the kind of data reported in order to illuminate whether well-balanced share of economic, environmental and social information are provided.

Design/methodology/approach

This study provides an empirical analysis of SR based on a documentary analysis of external reports by public sector organisations (PSO) included in the GRI’s database for the years 2012-2014.

Findings

PSO applying the GRI guidelines comply to a relatively great extent but show considerable variations and a clear imbalance of information reported concerning the three pillars of sustainable development.

Originality/value

The paper offers insight into GRI reporting practices by PSO in Austria, Germany and Switzerland. Additionally, a country and sector comparison was conducted. As previous studies mostly focus on SR in private corporations, the results contribute to advancing research on SR in the public sector where PSO increasingly have to demonstrate their (sustainable) contributions to the public benefit.

Details

International Journal of Public Sector Management, vol. 28 no. 4/5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3558

Keywords

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Book part

Ulf Papenfuß, Iris Saliterer and Nora Albrecht

This chapter investigates financial resilience of German local governments. The local governments included in this analysis challenged the applicability of the financial…

Abstract

This chapter investigates financial resilience of German local governments. The local governments included in this analysis challenged the applicability of the financial resilience concept by reporting no significant direct impact of the financial crisis during the last 10 years. This is also in line with more general observations suggesting that Germany weathered the financial crisis successfully and without the dramatic effects on its local governments that are observable in other countries. During semi-structured interviews with key administrative decision-makers, it turned out that the financial crisis impacted the local governments’ commercial tax revenues only in its aftermath, and respondents rather highlighted the refugee crisis in 2015 and sudden changes in the tax base caused by relocation, bankruptcy or economic turmoil as financial shocks. More general trends, for example, upper governmental levels devolving more service and administrative responsibility without sufficient compensation, and in particular long-term issues, that is, high debt levels magnifying effects of financial shocks, seem to challenge German local governments. Some cases included in this investigation seem reluctant to make conflict-laden, but necessary changes, and feel exposed to policies and regulations by upper governmental levels. This creates uncertainty and at times leaves them in a sense of helplessness and infeasibility of proper planning. However, the need for investing resources to build up internal capacities has already been pointed out. From a financial resilience perspective, this seems even more important in a context where relying on buffering was feasible, but might prove insufficient once other internal capacities are required to tackle local governments’ financial vulnerabilities.

Details

Governmental Financial Resilience
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78714-262-6

Keywords

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Article

Susanna Alexius and Jenny Cisneros Örnberg

The purpose of this paper is to contribute to theory of hybrid organizations, with particular regard to state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and their ability to contribute to…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to contribute to theory of hybrid organizations, with particular regard to state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and their ability to contribute to sustaining value pluralism in the public sector.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper offers a qualitative case concerning ongoing performance management reforms in the corporate governance of SOEs in Sweden, which is analyzed using theory on valuation and evaluation.

Findings

It is found that the number of non-financial values is reduced with reference to categorization. Attempts are made to change the perception of the potential value conflict at hand between financial and non-financial missions by adding a number of neutralizing “meta values” such as transparency and efficiency to the performance language in use. There is a risk of mission drift as a clear hierarchization of values, prioritizing financial values, is created and sustained in “investment teams.” Processes, standards and dialogues are all dominated by an economic logic despite formal aspirations to balance the values at stake. The few remaining non-financial values are translated into economic language aiming for a commensuration of the performance of the different missions. In addition, the ambition of the public policy assignment may be further reduced by de-coupling.

Originality/value

The paper suggests a novel approach to hybrid organizations in general and SOEs in particular when exploring how the values underlying complex missions are configured in “value work” performed by government officials in Swedish government offices. Such analyses of value work in the micro-practice of hybrids offer a more fine-grained understanding of organizational dilemmas that are commonly acknowledged, but more seldom explained in empirical detail.

Details

International Journal of Public Sector Management, vol. 28 no. 4/5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3558

Keywords

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Article

Sandra van Thiel

The purpose of this study is to present two heuristics for researchers to identify different types of boards in public sector organziations, and thus enable exchange of…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to present two heuristics for researchers to identify different types of boards in public sector organziations, and thus enable exchange of research findings and comparative research.

Design/methodology/approach

Based on existing knowledge, two typologies are presented. The first typology discerns four archetypes of boards, and the second typology distinguishes six board roles. The use of these typologies is briefly illustrated with findings on supervisory board in Dutch ZBOs.

Findings

Application of the two heuristics is possible and should preferably been done in combination as formal competencies and actual practices of boards do not always coincide. In the Dutch case, boards take on more than one role often exceeding their formal position. On the other hand, examples can be found where boards are overruled and stripped from their formal powers. Combining the two heuristics renders more comprehensive insight into what boards are and do.

Originality/value

The two heuristics show that there are different types of boards. Researchers can use these to carry out comparative research. Practitioners and policy makers can use them, for example, when designing appropriate governance structures in public sector organizations or applying international guidelines to specific types of boards and organizations.

Details

International Journal of Public Sector Management, vol. 28 no. 4/5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3558

Keywords

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Article

Lene Tolstrup Christensen

The purpose of this paper is to contribute to the conceptualisation of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) as a mode of governance in marketisation via the perspective of…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to contribute to the conceptualisation of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) as a mode of governance in marketisation via the perspective of historical institutionalism.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper is based on a qualitative case study of the marketisation of Danish passenger rail from the 1990s to date where marketisation has been set on hold since 2011 due to the activities of the SOE.

Findings

The paper shows that market governance was layered on the hierarchal governance of the SOE that was later turned into a hybrid governance mode through corporatisation. This layered set-up provided the state with a double governance grip that drove marketisation until 2011. However, the SOE as a hybrid created ripple effects between the market and the hierarchy that hampered the marketisation. The hierarchical governance turned towards centralisation and market governance was put on hold. The hybridity of the SOE was endogenously displaced via closing down of commercial activities, leading to a re-conversion of the SOE towards the hierarchical mode.

Originality/value

The paper contributes to the discussions about hybridity and re-centralisation in post-NPM era. It presents a case on how hybridity is altered and evolves in SOEs as a hybrid mode of governance between hierarchy and market in marketisation and how this can lead to re-centralisation.

Details

International Journal of Public Sector Management, vol. 28 no. 4/5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3558

Keywords

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Article

Martyna Swiatczak, Michèle Morner and Nadine Finkbeiner

The purpose of this paper is to investigate how performance measurement systems (PMSs) might be designed in order to empower managers of state-owned enterprises (SOEs…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate how performance measurement systems (PMSs) might be designed in order to empower managers of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) towards an active work role.

Design/methodology/approach

The study is based on a conceptual approach that combines insights from prior research on performance measurement with that on dimensions of psychological empowerment. An exploratory case study is used to further develop propositions for the design of an empowering PMS. Data from in-depth interviews with six managers of diverse SOEs located within a German city enables the tracing of underlying causal mechanisms.

Findings

PMSs that are designed according to the principles of goal clarity, balanced goal difficulty, autonomy-enhancing measurement, and a broad goal scope can positively influence the four dimensions of empowerment: meaning, competence, self-determination, and impact.

Practical implications

The study’s propositions can be used to enhance the governance of SOEs through a particular design of PMSs. This research thus responds to the call for a new generation of governance mechanisms within the complex setting of SOEs.

Originality/value

Current research on PMSs is extended through the construct of psychological empowerment. Thus, an existing governance mechanism is further developed towards being more effective for use in the context of SOEs.

Details

International Journal of Public Sector Management, vol. 28 no. 4/5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3558

Keywords

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Article

Kuo-Tai Cheng

– The purpose of this paper was to examine the predictive power of each dimension of public service motivation (PSM) on job performance (JP) in a Taiwan sample.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper was to examine the predictive power of each dimension of public service motivation (PSM) on job performance (JP) in a Taiwan sample.

Design/methodology/approach

The present study adopted a cross-sectional approach using a large-scale questionnaire survey in Taiwan (N=2,239). Participants from six utility sectors in two infrastructure-relevant ministries (Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) and Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA)), with heterogeneous sectors, were recruited, including representatives of the Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA), Chunghwa Post (CHP), Taiwan Power Company (TPC), CPC Corporation, Taiwan (CPC), Taiwan Sugar Corporation (TSC), and Taiwan Water Supply Corporation (TWSC). The sample consisted of 2,239 public employees from six public utilities.

Findings

Although the results suggest that the PSM observed in western society also exists in the Taiwanese public utilities context, the self-sacrifice (SS) and the compassion (COM) dimensions were unconfirmed. The research found that for all utilities SS was significantly negatively correlated with JP, while attraction to public policy making (APP) and commitment to public interests (CPI) were significantly positively correlated with performance. Moreover, CPI was the only dimension of PSM that consistently predicted employees’ JP across utilities.

Research limitations/implications

First, the authors tested the theory using a limited sample of public employees from Taiwanese public utilities. The cross-sectional design does not offer a clear cause-and-effect relationship as examined in the current study. Data collected only from public utilities in Taiwanese sample may cause concerns for the generalisability of the present findings to other settings. Second, the data do not address the timevariant effects of PSM. Third, the current empirical findings are based on Taiwan’s public utilities. The observations should be interpreted with caution. A broader sample of employees would make the empirical results more generalisable beyond the country-specific findings.

Practical implications

Researchers should unpack the PSM and JP concepts and strategically explore subdimensional relationships, but these results offer new insights into the influence of such subdimensions on the link between PSM and JP. PSM in public utilities has great potential to enhance JP through high levels of CPI and APP. Furthermore, public utilities management staff should acknowledge the value of PSM for JP and, if applicable, praise it with substantial rewards.

Originality/value

The relationship of the PSM to JP in public utilities is much less studied, especially in Asian countries. Moreover, no study on employees in public utilities has previously used a Taiwan sample.

Details

International Journal of Public Sector Management, vol. 28 no. 4/5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3558

Keywords

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Article

Daniela Argento and Peeter Peda

– The purpose of this paper is to explore the relationship between trust and contract in the context of externalized local public services provision.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore the relationship between trust and contract in the context of externalized local public services provision.

Design/methodology/approach

A multi-theoretical framework is used to analyse different combinations of control mechanisms (i.e. trust and contract) with reference to three cases of externalized water service provision in Estonia consisting of inter-organizational relationships between local governments and water companies with different ownership structures (public, private and mixed public-private).

Findings

The relationship between trust and contract, which can either be substitutes or complements, or eventually erode each other, is contingent upon the capacity of interacting individuals (and related organizations) to keep interests aligned in water services provision.

Originality/value

The relationship between trust and contract is analysed by considering the interactions between key actors within the underlying governance setting.

Details

International Journal of Public Sector Management, vol. 28 no. 4/5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3558

Keywords

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Abstract

Details

Governmental Financial Resilience
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78714-262-6

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