Central Management of Local Performance: A Comparison of England and Korea
Date: 3 February 2009
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
PhD in Politics
Since the 1980s, New Public Management (NPM) has deeply influenced the public sector across the world, and thus measuring or managing performance has become a principal element of government reform. In terms of borrowing models and techniques from the private sector, performance measurement has been significantly extended into government, ...
Since the 1980s, New Public Management (NPM) has deeply influenced the public sector across the world, and thus measuring or managing performance has become a principal element of government reform. In terms of borrowing models and techniques from the private sector, performance measurement has been significantly extended into government, but differences between the two sectors have led to difficulties and criticism of this practice with a wide inconsistent variety of different theoretical explanations about it. In this context, this thesis investigates the effectiveness of performance measurement and theoretical explanations of conditions for its success in the public sector. It focuses through a comparative methodology on Comprehensive Performance Assessment and Joint Performance Assessment that have recently been introduced between the levels of government in England and Korea for the improvement of local government performance and accountability. Extensive analysis of literature and case studies have allowed the thesis to find firstly, that the introduction of such unique assessment systems, by which the centre assesses localities, was deeply affected by the environmental commonalities of both countries such as centralisation in inter-governmental relations and enthusiasm for NPM. Second, the empirical evaluation of both tools shows that they have in practice been valid for accurate assessment, and directly functional for improvement and indirectly for accountability to the public. Their high validity and functionality proved to be mainly attributable to two characteristics. One was institutionally that both frameworks were based on a balanced approach to performance and the disclosure of assessment results to the public for facilitating competition between localities. The other was that both had impacted on internal management of local government which led to change in organisational culture with more focus on performance. However, it identified a necessity for local authorities to participate in the development process of those tools to ensure legitimacy of central management of local performance since they enjoy their own electorally based political support. The research has also found the importance of assessors’ expertise for accurate assessment and a possibility that performance measurement can contribute to the resolution of political tension and cooperation between central and local government when it focuses more on outcomes than input and process. A deeper theoretical and practical understanding of these successful experiences and important policy elements in contemporary public management contributes significantly to knowledge in the three settings of evaluation of policy instruments, comparison between countries and central-local relations. Finally, the study assists each country and others to draw lessons from each other.
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