Public sector cost management practices in The Netherlands
Purpose: The purpose of this research project is to validate the claim that recent developments in the public sector have increased the demand for and use of cost management information in public sector organizations. Design/methodology/approach: The approach taken is a survey of financial managers in public sector organizations in The Netherlands. Findings: The findings indicate that the design and use of cost management systems differs across branches. In addition, the results suggest that information from cost management systems is used to legitimate the organization's activities to external stakeholders rather than to manage public sector organizations. Finally, cost management information is used mostly by financial managers yet hardly used by political managers. The results defy claims that cost management information has become important in managing public sector organizations. Research limitations/implications: All limitations of survey research apply. The survey is based on a non-random sample of public sector organizations in The Netherlands; findings may not be transferable to other countries. Practical implications: Legal and regulatory requirements relating to the use of cost management information may not have their intended effects. Originality/value: The paper responds to previous calls in literature to use quantitative research methods to generalize findings from previous case studies. Also, the paper empirically tests the use of cost management information in The Netherlands, a country with a Nordic style of public management.