Performance Management in Government: A Comparative Study of the UK and Korea
Date: 7 May 2008
University of Exeter
PhD in Politics
Performance management, which is a core element of the New Public Management (NPM), has maintained its significance both in academic and practical perspectives for many scholars and governments, although enthusiasm for the NPM has waned since the late 1990s. There have been debates on the universality of the NPM, and the divergence ...
Performance management, which is a core element of the New Public Management (NPM), has maintained its significance both in academic and practical perspectives for many scholars and governments, although enthusiasm for the NPM has waned since the late 1990s. There have been debates on the universality of the NPM, and the divergence argument regards the practices and trajectories of specific reforms as being shaped by the different characteristics of politico-administrative and cultural systems. Through the comparative study of performance management based on the case studies in the UK and South Korea, this thesis demonstrates that the processes of a NPM-type reform can be similar in spite of differences of politico-administrative and cultural characteristics. It examines performance management systems in the two countries in terms of the speed and nature of reform, resistance to reform, use of performance information and importance as a control mechanism. The comparison is also useful for lesson-drawing for the improvement of current systems. This research has been conducted by undertaking a wide literature review, including journal articles and government papers, and by conducting semi-structured interviews. To undertake analysis and comparison of performance management systems, the thesis looks at the Public Service Agreements (PSAs) in the UK and the Government Performance Evaluation (GPE), Financial Performance Management System (FPMS) and Performance Agreements in Korea. Case studies have been carried out with the Department of Health in the UK and the Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs in Korea. The PSA system has problems generated by excessive central control and lack of participation of professionals and front-line staff. In Korea all three performance management systems are based on evaluation. Departments used evaluation as a tool of exercising control, which resulted in duplication of evaluation and excessive bureaucracy. Focus on the process-oriented evaluation has undermined the value of the systems for improving public services. Whilst the two countries display differences in the fundamental approach to performance management, there are similarities in the detailed practices and trajectories in the operation of the systems. The reason for these similarities may be attributed to the strong leadership of top politicians in both countries.
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