Measuring and comparing the overall performance of countries’ public sectors requires agreement on definitions and objectives of government. I argue that such an agreement is about finding a consensus rather about finding better definitions. Measuring government requires a number of leaps of faith, where certain definitions, assumptions and statistics are accepted as good enough for measurement and comparison. The political science and economic research community have a different tradition of dealing with such agreements and leaps of faith, and this is reflected in their approaches to measuring and comparing the performance of public sectors. The implications of these traditions are particularly visible in the usefulness of measurement and indicators for policy makers.

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Department of Public Administration

Van de Walle, S. (2009). International comparisons of public sector performance: how to move ahead?. Retrieved from