Purpose: The aim of this paper is to research the effectiveness of different forms of performance management and to trace the factors which influence these effectiveness. In order to better emphasize the context dimensions, it also aims to study two municipal processes in the Dutch public sector, i.e. treatment of building permits and the establishment of environmental policy papers. Design/methodology/approach: The study analyses 57 Dutch municipalities on performance management. Findings: The research shows that management should not intervene nor should it focus on the process itself, contrary to what is normally thought and done. This study also points out that the type of management on output is more important for the effectiveness than the context of the processes. The conclusion may be drawn that process control will lead to less effectiveness in almost all cases. Effective output management should be confined to a combination of input and output control. Although the general management has the tendency to engage in the way processes are conducted, it will need to resist this tendency as much as possible. In addition, intermediate control is ineffective. In the investigated processes more capacity was needed when the general management exercised intermediate control, regardless of the mode. This conclusion is at odds with the widely endorsed desirability and need for intermediate control (monitoring). Control ex ante, in contrast, increases effectiveness in every case. The impression arises that opting for less control (only ex ante and not on processes) makes the type of management more effective. Originality/value: Output management will have to take the context into account, but also give decentralized managers sufficient degrees of freedom. In order to decentralize adequately, the correct type of management will need to be chosen. Although most authors endorse the importance of context and believe the possibility of output management to be almost completely dependent on this context, this study shows that the effectiveness of output management is virtually entirely dictated by the chosen type of management, no matter the context. The type of management allocating as much freedom to decentralized management as possible, offers the best basis for effective action. Paradoxically, general management could maximize its effectiveness by interfering as little as possible with the process at stake.

Efficiency, Performance management, Process efficiency, Public sector organizations, The Netherlands
dx.doi.org/10.1108/17410401211232939, hdl.handle.net/1765/65479
International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management
Department of Public Administration

Anderson, R.J, & Klaassen, H.L. (2012). The fallacy of the context: An empirical study of the influence of the context on the use of performance management in the public sector. International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management, 61(5), 483–501. doi:10.1108/17410401211232939