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Paradoxes of ModernizationUnintended Consequences of Public Policy Reform$
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Helen Margetts, Perri 6, and Christopher Hood

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199573547

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199573547.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 22 January 2022

What if Public Management Reform Actually Works?

What if Public Management Reform Actually Works?

The Paradoxical Success of Performance Management in English Local Government

(p.203) 11 What if Public Management Reform Actually Works?
Paradoxes of Modernization

George Boyne

Oliver James (Contributor Webpage)

Peter John

Nicolai Petrovsky

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the Comprehensive Performance Assessment (CPA) regime in English local government, a scheme introduced in the early 2000s to improve performance across local authorities. A paradox lies in the fact that even though the CPA was a classical performance management system, overall it was a success, whereas most other performance measurement systems have failed or have been replaced quickly by systems of performance review. The scheme worked by improving the information environment for stakeholders, incentivizing poor performers to improve and make a substantive difference to local authority performance overall. This result is surprising, particularly given some contradictory elements of the incentivization under the CPA, such as a context where deprivation beyond local authority control influences public service outcomes and an asymmetric electoral response to performance — electoral punishment for low performance, but no corresponding reward for high performance. Yet the system actually worked, in spite of a volume of commentary and research on public management reform that says otherwise.

Keywords:   Comprehensive Performance Assessment, incentive schemes, local government, performance management

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